Nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer

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Treatments for sphenoid sinus cancer

Tumours in the sphenoid sinus are very rare. They are treated the same no matter how early or advanced they are.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is the main treatment for sphenoid sinus cancer.

External beam radiation therapy is used to treat the tumour in the sphenoid sinus. It is also used to treat cancer that has spread to lymph nodes in the neck (called cervical lymph nodes).

External beam radiation therapy may be given with chemotherapy (called chemoradiation) or targeted therapy.

Brachytherapy may be used for sphenoid sinus cancer that comes back, or recurs, after treatment. Brachytherapy is a form of radiation therapy that uses a radioactive substance (radioactive isotope) placed directly into, or very close to, the tumour (called an implant).


Chemotherapy may be used to treat sphenoid sinus cancer. It may be given alone or as part of chemoradiation.

Chemotherapy may be given before chemoradiation (called neoadjuvant chemotherapy) or after treatment with chemoradiation (called adjuvant chemotherapy).

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy may be offered for sphenoid sinus cancer. Cetuximab (Erbitux) is the type of targeted therapy most often used for sphenoid sinus cancer. It may be given with radiation therapy.


The sphenoid sinus is deep in the skull. This can make it difficult for doctors to use surgery to reach and remove tumours in the sphenoid sinus. Surgeons may use endoscopic surgery to help reach a tumour in the sphenoid sinus. Endoscopic surgery uses a rigid instrument with a light and a lens (called an endoscope) to view structures or organs or to remove tissue. Doctors place the endoscope through the nostril.

Surgery is also sometimes used to remove lymph nodes in the neck (called neck dissection) that contain cancer. Learn more about neck dissection.

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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