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Nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer

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Follow-up after treatment for nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer

Follow-up after treatment is an important part of cancer care. Follow-up for nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer is often shared among the cancer specialists such as the oncologist, surgeon, radiation therapist, dentist and ophthalmologist and your family doctor. You may also meet with a dietitian, who will make sure that your nutritional needs are being met. Your healthcare team will work with you to decide on follow-up care to meet your needs.

Don’t wait until your next scheduled appointment to report any new symptoms and symptoms that don’t go away. Tell your healthcare team if you have:

  • any new lump or swelling in the neck
  • pain
  • headache
  • eye or sinus pain
  • stuffy or runny nose
  • fatigue

The chance of cancer in the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses recurring is greatest within 2 years, so close follow-up is needed during this time. Most cancers in the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses recur in the area where the original tumour developed (called a local recurrence). People who have been diagnosed with a nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancer have a higher risk of developing a second primary tumour in another part of the head and neck.

Schedule for follow-up visits

Follow-up visits for nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer are usually scheduled:

  • 2–6 weeks after the treatment is finished
  • every 3 months in the first 2 years
  • about every 4 months in the 3rd year
  • every 6 months in the 4th and 5th years
  • every year after 5 years

During follow-up visits

During a follow-up visit, your healthcare team will usually ask questions about the side effects of treatment and how you’re coping.

Your doctor may do a physical exam including:

  • a head and neck exam that includes feeling the lymph nodes in your neck
  • checking your dental hygiene
  • checking your prosthesis, if you have one

Tests are often part of follow-up care. You may have:

  • nasal endoscopy to look for a recurrence inside the nose and nasopharynx
  • CT scan, MRI or both
  • PET scan combined with CT scan (PET/CT)
  • blood tests to check how well your thyroid is working if you’ve had radiation therapy to the neck
  • tests to check your speech and swallowing
  • dental exam to check for damage to the teeth
  • hearing tests
  • eye exam to check your eye health and test your vision
  • biopsy if there is an abnormal area
  • chest x-ray to check for cancer in the lungs

If a recurrence is found, your healthcare team will assess you to determine the best treatment options.

Quitting smoking after head and neck cancer

Smoking can make your treatment less effective and increase your risk of developing another head and neck cancer. People who smoke also tend to have worse side effects from treatment than those who don’t smoke.

If you are a smoker, it’s important that you get help to quit. Trying to quit smoking is hard but your healthcare team can help suggest ways for you to quit. Learn more about ways to quit smoking.

Questions to ask about follow-up

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

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