Nasal and sinus cancer is a rare type of cancer that affects the space behind the nose (nasal cavity) and the cavities inside the nose, forehead and cheekbones (sinuses). Although it mostly affects men over 40, this cancer is different from the one where the nose and throat connect (which is called nasopharyngeal cancer). This cancer can form as a tumour and it may have symptoms that can be confused with other common sinus issues.
Further, sinus and nasal cavity cancer may also happen due to damage in the DNA within the cells, but medical experts are not totally sure about that. Doctors however believe that a number of factors can harm the cells inside the nose and sinuses and causing this cancer in particular.
Let’s look at factors that may be reason behind sinus and nasal cavity cancer –
- Working in an area where you’re always breathing in dust, flour or chemicals can put you at a higher risk of this cancer
- Smoking could also increase the risk of developing not only the cancer of nasal cavity and sinus but also of other areas as well
- Age and gender are a factor for cancer of sinuses and nasal cavity as men over 40 are more likely to develop it
- In rare cases, the presence of Human papilloma virus (HPV) can also increase the chances of this cancer
These factors may be linked to nasal cavity and sinus cancer, but their presence alone does not mean you will develop the disease. But yes, they presence can definitely increase the risk for getting the cancer.
Signs of Sinus and Nasal Cavity Cancer
- No signs of this cancer are generally detected in the early stages
- Signs will develop and grow as the tumour grows
- Signs and symptoms may look like any other sinus-related problem when even they appear
- However, the signs or symptoms may not go away early and easily unlike those general sinus problems
- The existing congestion in the area will get worse and patients may feel sinus pressure or blockage
- Nosebleeds, runny nose, post-nasal drip and sinus headaches may also be experienced or felt
- Patients may experience numbness or pain in the face
- Pain, numbness or loosening of the teeth
- A growth in the nose or mouth or on the face
- Ear pain or ear pressure with changes in eye pressure or vision
Diagnosis of Sinus and Nasal Cavity Cancer
You should consult a doctor if you have a combination of symptoms mentioned above and when they don’t go away over time. The doctor will do a physical exam, ask about the symptoms and other medical history question. More tests would be done at a specialist ff the doctor finds symptoms matching with the nasal cavity and sinus cancer.
You may also be asked to undergo a number of imaging tests including MRIs, CT scans and X-rays to locate the tumour. The tests will confirm whether the cancer has spread.
Once the tumour is located, the doctor will do a biopsy where a small tissue sample from the tumour is taken and sent to a lab for testing. The biopsy will help identify the type of cancer and its spread or its nature. Only then the doctor will be able to decide on a proper treatment plan.
Treatment of Sinus and Nasal Cavity Treatment
The treatment will often depend on the type of cancer, its location and its progress level. More so, a treatment plan will also be devised after considering the age and general health of the patient.
The treatment plan may include surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy as these are the most common types of treatment. if the cancer is detected at an early stage itself, the patient may only need surgery to get the tumour removed. However, if the cancer has progressed and has spread quickly, the patient may need a combination of therapies.
After treatment, you may be asked to undergo additional imaging test to make sure the cancer is out. Even if the doctor declares you cancer-free, you will need to consult him for regular screenings as there will always be a chance of another type of cancer developing. That’s why you should get dentist appointment and not take even tooth pain lightly.