Nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancer is a malignant tumour that starts in the cells of the nose or sinuses around the nose. Malignant means that it can spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body.
The nasal cavity is made up of the nostrils and the hollow passageway just behind the nose. The nasal cavity filters, warms and moistens the air you breathe and gives you your sense of smell. The paranasal sinuses are hollow chambers around the nose. These sinuses give shape to your face and eyes and give your voice sound.
Cells in the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses sometimes change and no longer grow or behave normally. These changes may lead to non-cancerous, or benign, tumours such as nasal polyps, inverting papilloma or osteoma.
In some cases, changes to nasal cavity or paranasal cavity cells can cause cancer. The nasal cavity and the paranasal sinuses are made up of many different types of cells that can become cancerous. Each type of cancer behaves or grows differently. Most often, nasal cavity or paranasal cavity cancer starts in thin, flat cells called squamous cells. These cells line the inside of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses. This type of cancer is called squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the nasal cavity or paranasal sinus. Sometimes cancer can start in the gland cells of the nose or sinuses. This type of cancer is called adenocarcinoma of the nasal cavity or paranasal sinus.
Rare types of nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer can also develop. These include esthesioneuroblastoma (olfactory neuroblastoma) and sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma (SNUC).
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