Nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer

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Treatments for stage 1 nasal cavity cancer

The following are treatment options for stage 1 nasal cavity 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 is a main treatment for stage 1 nasal cavity cancer. Surgery is usually done if the tumour is on the wall that divides the nasal cavity (called the nasal septum). The type of surgery done depends on where the tumour is in the nasal cavity.

Wide local excision removes the tumour along with a wide margin of healthy tissue around it.

Medial maxillectomy removes part of the upper jaw (called the maxilla) closest to the nose, including the side wall of the nose.

Endoscopic surgery uses a rigid or flexible tube-like instrument with a light and a lens (called an endoscope) to view structures or organs or remove tissue. Doctors place the endoscope in the body through small incisions (cuts made during surgery) or through a natural opening, such as the nostril. It may be used for small tumours that can be easily removed.

Radiation therapy

External beam radiation therapy is a main treatment for stage 1 cancer. You may be offered radiation therapy if:

  • the cancer develops on the upper or side walls of the nasal cavity
  • you can’t have surgery because of other health concerns
  • you choose not to have surgery

External beam radiation therapy may also be given after surgery to destroy any cancer cells that may have been left behind or before surgery if it is likely that cancer cells will be on the cut surface of the tissue removed by surgery (called a positive surgical margin).

If the tumour is on the septum and is smaller than 1.5 cm, it may be treated with brachytherapy. 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).


Chemoradiation is treatment that 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).

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.