Paranasal Sinus Cancer: Symptoms, Treatment

Overview

Paranasal sinus cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissues of the paranasal sinuses. Paranasal sinuses are the hollow spaces in the bones filled with air around the nose. These sinuses are surrounded with cells that develop mucus, preventing the nose from drying out. Paranasal sinus cancer can cause sinus problems and nosebleeds. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most frequent type of malignant tumor in the nose and paranasal sinuses, registering about 70%–80%. Most of the paranasal sinus tumors are present with advanced disease, and the cure rates are generally less than 50%.

Causes

There
are many risk factors that can lead to paranasal sinus cancer:

  • Head and neck tumors
  • Head conditions
  • Smoking
  • Hereditary retinoblastoma treatment
  • Being infected with human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Being male and older than 40 years
  • Being exposed to sunlight
  • Being exposed to certain chemicals or dust in the workplace, such as in furniture-making, carpentry, sawmill work or metal-plating

Symptoms

In
the early stages, you may not feel any signs or symptoms. As the tumor grows,
noticeable symptoms may develop, which include:

  • Blocked sinuses
  • Pain in the sinus areas
  • Headaches
  • Nosebleeds
  • A runny nose
  • A lump inside the nose
  • A lump on the face or roof of the mouth
  • Numbness or pain in parts of the face
  • Pain or pressure in the ears
  • Upper teeth pain
  • Persistent nasal congestion and stuffiness
  • Swelling around eyes
  • Loss or change in vision
  • Decreased or loss of sense of smell

Diagnosis

To
diagnose paranasal sinus cancer, the following tests and procedures may be
ordered:

  • Physical exam and history. In a physical examination, the doctor feels for any lumps on the neck, lips, gums, and cheeks. The doctor will also inspect the nose, mouth, throat, and tongue for abnormalities by using a small, long-handled mirror for a clearer view. Besides, a history of the patient’s overall health and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.

  • Biopsy. It refers to the removal of a small amount of tissue to be checked for signs of cancer under a microscope. A biopsy can make a definite diagnosis.

  • Endoscopy. It allows the doctor to see inside the body with a thin, lighted, flexible tube called an endoscope. The patient will be sedated as the tube is inserted through the mouth or nose to examine the head and neck areas.

  • X-rays of the head and neck. An X-ray is used to create a picture of the structures inside of the body by using a small amount of radiation.

  • Computed tomography (CT) scan. It can take pictures of the inside of the body using X-rays taken from different angles, showing any abnormalities or tumors. CT scan helps to determine if the tumor has affected and damaged the bones.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). It uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to produce detailed images of the body. MRI can be used to measure a tumor’s size.

  • Bone scan. A bone scan uses a radioactive tracer to look at the inside of the bones and further check if cancer has spread to the bones. Healthy bone appears gray to the camera, and areas affected by cancer appear dark.

  • PET Scan. It is used to create pictures of organs and tissues inside the body. In this procedure, a radioactive sugar is injected into the blood cells. The cancer cells will absorb more sugar, so the picture of those affected areas can determine the stage and the spread of cancer.

Treatment

Paranasal
sinus cancer can be treated in three major ways:

  • Surgery

Surgery
is a common treatment for all stages of paranasal sinus cancer. In a surgery,
the doctor may remove the cancer and some of the healthy tissue and bone around
the cancer. It is usually impossible to completely remove the cancer during a
surgery, so additional treatments may be necessary.

  • Radiation Therapy

Radiation
therapy is a palliative treatment to use high-energy X-rays or other types of
radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. Radiation is given
before or after the surgery to restrict further growth of cancer and its
reoccurrence.

  • Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy the cancer cells and restrict further growth. Usually, it is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle. It is combined with radiation in most cases.

Keywords: Paranasal sinus cancer

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