Sinus and nasal cavity tumors mainly are benign and incapable of spreading to another part of the body. These tumors may occur on either sides of the nose and are usually slow growing.
Malignant sinus tumors are rare. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of cancer found in the paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity. Other malignancies such as adenocarcinoma, lymphoma, and melanoma also may be found. A rare type of polyp called an inverted papilloma usually is found on one side of the nose and can become malignant.
Sinus tumors often are diagnosed late because early symptoms are similar to those found in patients diagnosed with acute and chronic sinusitis.
The preferred surgical treatment at UPMC for sinus tumors is the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA) to remove the tumor. This innovative, minimally invasive technique uses the nose and nasal cavities as natural corridors to access hard-to-reach or previously inoperable tumors. EEA offers the benefits of no incisions to heal, no disfigurement to the patient, and a faster recovery time. If complementary treatments such as radiation therapy are needed, those therapies can begin soon after surgery.
Your physician will perform a physical exam and ask about any symptoms you are experiencing. Symptoms may include:
- blocked sinuses
- pain in the sinus area
- runny nose
- pain or pressure in the ear
- double vision, blurred vision, or loss of vision
- swelling around the eyes
- loose teeth
Your doctor also may want you to have diagnostic tests such as MRI and CT scans, x-rays, nasoscopy, and biopsy. These tests will confirm where the tumor is and determine whether it is cancerous.
Sinus tumors may be approached directly by using the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA). This approach allows surgeons to see the tumor well without making incisions in the face or skull. The tumor is removed through the nose and nasal cavities, and recovery time is faster than with a traditional approach. Patients who received surgery with the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach may be able to begin radiation therapy soon after surgery when indicated.
At UPMC, we take a 360° Approach to treatment when evaluating each patient—looking at their conditions from every direction—to find the path that is least disruptive to the patient's brain, critical nerves, and ability to return to normal functioning. Our neurosurgical team may recommend a combination of surgical and non-surgical approaches to maximize the benefits of surgery while minimizing risks.
Radiation therapy may be used after surgery for a malignant sinus tumor. Radiation can be delivered externally by directing radiation at the tumor from an outside source, internally by placing radioactive material directly in the body near the cancer, or using stereotactic radiosurgery to deliver a concentrated dose of radiation directly to the tumor.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells. Depending on the type and stage of the cancer, chemotherapy may be taken by mouth, as an injection, or placed directly into the brain tumor site.
Frequent follow up is required for malignant sinus tumors because of the high rate of developing secondary cancers in the head or neck.