Sinus Cancer Symptoms

Sinus cancers are rare with around 2000 people in the United States getting them per year. With age, the tumors are more commonwith around 80% cases happening to people who are at least 55 years old. It is more likely for men than women to get these types of cancers. They happen more in particular areas of the world like South Africa and Japan. Most sinus cancers are in the cavity of the nasal passages or the maxillary sinuses, not common in the ethmoid sinuses and rare in the sphenoid and front sinuses.

Sinus Cancer Symptoms

How can you know if you have sinus cancer? What symptoms should you look for?The sinus cancer symptoms can look a lot like sinusitis, however they won’t go away with the usual therapies. They also can involve changes to you facial appearance which might be because of muscle weakness in the face.

Common Sinus Cancer Symptoms

There are several common symptoms of sinus cancer which can include:

  • Double vision
  • Change in smell, hearing or taste
  • Visual changes or bulging of an eye
  • Fatigue
  • Toothache or earache
  • Your dentures no longer fit
  • Nosebleeds
  • Weakness or numbness of the face
  • Nasal congestion
  • Weight loss which is unexplained
  • Postnasal drip
  • Pressure or pain under the eyes, either above the eyebrows or on one side of the nose
  • Lump in mouth, nose, throat, face or neck

Sinus Cancer Symptoms Which May Indicate a Sever Condition

You need to seek prompt medical care if you or someone you know has any of the following symptoms.

  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • A sense of taste of smell that is altered
  • Visual changes or a bulging eye
  • Lump in the mouth, face, nose, neck or throat
  • Tingling, weakness or numbness in the face
  • Sinus symptoms which last more than two weeks
  • Weight loss that is unexplained
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Severe headache

How to Diagnose Sinus Cancer

You should visit a doctor for a definite diagnosis if you have seen any persistent or unusual symptoms which worry you. You need to go through some tests to find out if you have sinus cancer or not.

  1. Physical Exam: During a physical exam, your doctor will feel for any lumps on the lips, neck, cheeks and gums. They will also check out the mouth, nose, tongue and throat for any abnormalities, usually using a mirror and a light for a better view.
  2. Biopsy: This is the removal of a bit of tissue to examine under a microscope. Only a biopsy can make a definite cancer diagnosis. The sample removed will be analyzed by a pathologist, who specializes in interpreting laboratory tests and evaluating tissues, cells and organs.
  3. Endoscopy: This lets your doctor see inside your body with a lighted, thin, flexible tube called an endoscope. You might be sedated in order to keep you more calm, relaxed or sleepy. Depending on where the procedure is done, it has different names, such as pharyngoscopy for the pharynx, laryngoscopy for the larynx, or nasopharyngoscopy for the nasopharynx and nasal cavity.
  4. CT Scan: With the help of an x-ray machine, this gives a 3-dimensional view of the inside of your body. Then a computer will combine the images into a cross-sectional, detailed view which will show any tumors or any abnormalities. A CT scan can be used as well to measure how big the tumor is. A special dye is called a contrast medium is sometimes used before the scan for a better picture. It can be given as a pill or put directly into your vein. CT scans are great in finding cancer of the paranasal sinus or nasal cavity.
  5. MRI: MRI uses magnetic fields to make detailed images of your body, especially the soft tissue like the eye in the socket and the area of the brain near your sinuses. It can be used as well to measure how large the tumor is.
  6. Bone Scan A bone scan can be done to see if the cancer has spread to the bones. It uses a radioactive tracer to see inside the bones, which is injected into your vein. It will collect in parts of the bone and detect by a special camera. Healthy bone is gray and area of injury appears dark.
  7. PET Scan: This is a way to make pictures of your tissues and organs. A bit of a radioactive sugar substance is injected into your body which is taken up by the most energy-consuming cells. Since the cancer tends to use energy, it will absorb more of this substance. Then the scanner will detect it and make images. After the test is done, your doctor will go over the results which help to describe the cancer in stages.

Who Is at Risk for Sinus Cancer?

The exact cause of sinus cancer is still unknown, but there are many factors that can increase your risk of sinus cancer.

  • Gender:It is more likely for men to develop sinus and nasal cancer than women.
  • Smoking: The more you smoke, the higher risk you have of developing all kinds of cancer, especially sinus and nasal cancer.
  • Virus Infection:A large group of viruses such as human papilloma virus (HPV) affect the skin and moist membranes like the throat and mouth.
  • Irritants Exposure: Exposure to particular substances through your work like leather dust, wood dust, cloth fibers, nickel and formaldehyde put you in danger.
  • Previous Health Conditions:If you already had radiotherapy to treat hereditary retinoblastoma, or if you’ve had a history of nose or sinus problems ornon-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, your risk of sinus cancer increases.

How Is Sinus Cancer Treated?

If your sinus cancer tests come back positive, you need to seek out medical treatments from a doctor. The chart below has some of the recommended medical treatments:


How It Helps


This is performed to remove a tumor by performing surgical incisions or a keyhole surgery through your nose with an endoscope.


This uses a high-energy radiation which will make a tumor shrink before surgery or will destroy remaining part of the tumor after a surgery.


This uses medicine to make the tumor shrink before surgery or lessen the risk of cancer coming back after surgery. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy can be used as well to treat a tumor without any surgery. Chemotherapy in some instances might be combined with radiotherapy.

Biological therapy

This is a newer form of medicine known as monoclonal antibodies, which helps to stop the cancer from spreading.

What Is the Outlook for Sinus Cancer?

Almost everyone with an early diagnosis will live for 5 or more years afterwards. If it is found at an advanced state, only about 20% to 30% people will live 5 years or more. However, the outlook for sinus cancer can vary, depending on individual factors, where the cancer is located and how far it has spread before it is found and treated.

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