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Nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer

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Treatments for nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer

If you have cancer in the nasal cavity or a paranasal sinus, your healthcare team will create a treatment plan just for you. It will be based on your needs and may include a combination of different treatments. When deciding which treatments to offer for nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer, your healthcare team will consider:

  • the stage of the cancer
  • the location of the tumour
  • your overall health
  • your treatment preferences

You may be offered the following treatments for nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer.

Surgery

Surgery is a common treatment for cancer in the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses. Some types of surgery for nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer use both endoscopic surgery and open surgery. Endoscopic surgery uses an endoscope (a rigid or flexible tube-like instrument with a light and a lens) to view structures or organs or remove tissue. The surgeon places the endoscope into the body through small incisions or a natural opening, such as the nostril.

Depending on the stage, size and location of the tumour, you may have one of the following types of surgery.

Wide local excision removes the tumour along with a margin of healthy tissue around it. It is used for small tumours of the nasal vestibule that can be completely removed without changing how the nose or face looks.

Lateral rhinotomy uses an incision (surgical cut) in the face to remove a small tumour inside the nasal cavity.

Midfacial degloving uses hidden incisions in the mouth and nose to allow the surgeon to access parts of the nasal cavity and the maxillary and ethmoid sinuses.

Rhinectomy is done to remove a tumour in the nasal vestibule. This surgery removes either all or part of the nose.

Maxillectomy is done to remove a tumour in the maxillary sinus or other parts of the maxillary bone. Different types of maxillectomies are done depending on the amount of the upper jaw (called the maxilla) that needs to be removed.

Craniofacial resection is done to remove a tumour in the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses that has grown into the base of the skull (the area where the brain sits). This can be done using both endoscopic and open surgery. This surgery is often done with the help of a neurosurgeon who removes the outer covering of the brain, called the dura mater.

Neck dissection removes lymph nodes from the neck.

Reconstructive surgery is done to repair a defect after surgery, to improve appearance or to help you speak and swallow as normally as possible.

Palliative surgery is done to relieve pain and ease symptoms by removing parts of the tumour blocking the nasal cavity or paranasal sinus.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is a common treatment for nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer. It may be used on its own, or it can be given as part of chemoradiation.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy may sometimes be used to treat nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancer. It may be given on its own, or it can be given as part of chemoradiation.

Chemoradiation

Chemoradiation is treatment that combines chemotherapy with radiation therapy. Chemotherapy is given during the same time period as radiation therapy. Some types of chemotherapy make radiation therapy more effective.

In some cases, chemoradiation may be used as an alternative treatment to surgery for advanced cancer in the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses.

If you can’t have or don’t want cancer treatment

You may want to consider a type of care to make you feel better rather than treat the cancer itself. This may be because the cancer treatments don’t work anymore, they’re not likely to improve your condition or they may cause side effects that are hard to cope with. There may also be other reasons why you can’t have or don’t want cancer treatment.

Talk to your healthcare team. They can help you choose care and treatment for advanced cancer.

Follow-up care

Follow-up after treatment is an important part of cancer care. You will need to have regular follow-up visits, especially in the first 5 years after treatment has finished. These visits allow your healthcare team to monitor your progress and recovery from treatment.

Clinical trials

Some clinical trials in Canada are open to people with cancer in the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, find and treat cancer. Find out more about clinical trials.

Questions to ask about treatment

To make the decisions that are right for you, ask your healthcare team questions about treatment.

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