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Nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer

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Treatments for stage III ethmoid sinus cancer

The following are treatment options for stage III ethmoid sinus cancer. Your healthcare team will suggest treatments based on your needs and work with you to develop a treatment plan. You may be offered one or more of the following treatments.

Surgery

Surgery is a main treatment for stage III tumours of the ethmoid sinus. The type of surgery done will depend on the size of the tumour, how far it has grown into nearby bone and if cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the neck.

Craniofacial resection removes the front part of the base of the skull, the ethmoid sinus, the frontal sinus and the wall of bone that divides the nasal cavity into right and left sides (called the nasal septum).

Surgery to remove the orbit is done if cancer has spread to the bone surrounding the eye (called the orbit). Doctors remove the part of the orbit that contains cancer.

Surgery to remove the eye may be done if cancer has grown into the eye, the muscles of the eye or the fat around the eye.

Neck dissection removes lymph nodes in the neck (called cervical lymph nodes). This surgery may be done if cancer has spread to these lymph nodes. Learn more about neck dissection.

Radiation therapy

External beam radiation therapy is often given after surgery for stage III ethmoid sinus cancer. It is used to help prevent the cancer from coming back (recurring). You may also have radiation therapy to the neck if cancer has spread to lymph nodes there (called cervical lymph nodes).

External beam radiation therapy can also be offered before surgery for stage III ethmoid sinus cancer. It is given if it is likely that cancer cells will be on the cut surface of the tissue removed by surgery (called a positive surgical margin) or if the cancer has spread to lymph nodes that can’t be removed by surgery.

Chemoradiation

Chemoradiation may be used for stage III ethmoid sinus cancer. This treatment gives chemotherapy during the same time period as radiation therapy. The chemotherapy drug used is usually cisplatin (Platinol AQ).

Chemoradiation may be offered after surgery if cancer cells are found on the cut surface of the tissue removed (called a positive surgical margin). Chemoradiation is also used to treat cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes in the neck (called cervical lymph nodes).

You may be offered chemoradiation instead of surgery as the main treatment if you can’t have surgery because:

  • the tumour is too difficult to remove
  • you have other health concerns
  • you choose not to have surgery

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy may be offered after surgery for stage III ethmoid sinus cancer. Cetuximab (Erbitux) is the drug most often used. It is usually given along with radiation therapy.

Clinical trials

You may be asked if you want to join a clinical trial for nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer. Find out more about clinical trials.

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