Nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer

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Treatments for nasal vestibular cancer

The nasal vestibule is the area just inside the nostril. Most tumours that develop in the nasal vestibule are squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) of the skin. As a result, these tumours are treated like non-melanoma skin cancer.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is a main treatment for nasal vestibule cancer. External beam radiation therapy is the type of radiation used to treat most tumours in the nasal vestibule.

External beam radiation therapy may be used:

  • instead of surgery to treat small or large tumours when surgery could change how the face looks
  • before surgery to shrink large tumours that have grown into surrounding tissue and have caused a lot of damage to the bone
  • after surgery if cancer cells are on or near the cut surface of the tissue removed by surgery (called positive or close surgical margins)
  • after surgery if cancer cells surround a nerve or are growing along a nerve (called perineural invasion)
  • to treat cancer that has spread to lymph nodes in the neck (called cervical lymph nodes)
  • to treat nasal vestibule cancer that comes back, or recurs, after surgery

Chemotherapy is sometimes given with external beam radiation therapy (called chemoradiation).


You may be offered surgery for very small tumours in the nasal vestibule. This is an option if the surgery won’t change how the face looks or won’t require you to have reconstruction.

Surgery may also be given either before or after radiation therapy for large tumours of the nasal vestibule.

If radiation therapy or surgery was used as a first treatment and cancer comes back, more surgery may be done to try to remove the cancer.

The type of surgery done depends on the size of the tumour.

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

Rhinectomy removes all or part of the nose, which can change how the face looks. It is usually only done for larger, advanced tumours or tumours that have come back (recurred) after radiation therapy. If you need to have a rhinectomy, you will have reconstructive surgery or be fitted with a prosthesis.

Neck dissection removes lymph nodes in the neck (called cervical lymph nodes). It is sometimes done to remove lymph nodes that contain cancer. Learn more about neck dissection.


Sometimes chemotherapy is given during the same time period as radiation therapy (called chemoradiation) or after surgery.

Chemotherapy may also be used alone to treat recurrent nasal vestibule cancer that doesn’t respond to radiation therapy or surgery.

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.