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Cancer cells can spread from the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses to other parts of the body. This spread is called metastasis.
Understanding how a type of cancer usually grows and spreads helps your healthcare team plan your treatment and future care. Doctors describe the spread of cancer in the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses based on the structures the tumour grows into and how or where the cancer spreads.
Local spread is when cancer that started in one part of the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses grows into other parts of these structures. Local spread also includes cancer in the following nearby structures and tissues:
Lymphatic spread is when cancer that started in the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses spreads to lymph nodes in the head and neck (called cervical lymph nodes). Cancer that spreads to these lymph nodes from the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses generally follows a predictable path. Cancer may spread to lymph nodes on the same side of the neck as the tumour, on the opposite side of the neck or on both sides of the neck.
Distant spread, or metastases, is uncommon with cancer that starts in the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses. It may occur when advanced tumours have spread to the lymph nodes. The chance of developing distant metastases increases with the number of lymph nodes that have cancer.
The most common distant sites where cancer that started in the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses spreads are the: