Home Uncategorized Paranasal Sinus and Nasal Cavity Cancer Treatment (Adult) (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version

Paranasal Sinus and Nasal Cavity Cancer Treatment (Adult) (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version

General Information About Paranasal Sinus and Nasal Cavity Cancer

Incidence and Mortality

The majority of tumors of the paranasal sinuses present with advanced disease, and cure rates are generally poor (≤50%). Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the most frequent type of malignant tumor in the nose and paranasal sinuses (70%–80%). Papillomas are distinct entities that may undergo malignant degeneration. The cancers grow within the bony confines of the sinuses and are often asymptomatic until they erode and invade adjacent structures.[1-3]

Nodal involvement is infrequent. Although metastases from both the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses may occur, and distant metastases are found in 20% to 40% of patients who do not respond to treatment, locoregional recurrence accounts for the majority of cancer deaths since most patients die of direct extension into vital areas of the skull or of rapidly recurring local disease.

Cancers of the maxillary sinus are the most common of the paranasal sinus cancers. Tumors of the ethmoid sinuses, nasal vestibule, and nasal cavity are less common, and tumors of the sphenoid and frontal sinuses are rare.


The major lymphatic drainage route of the maxillary antrum is through the lateral and inferior collecting trunks to the first station submandibular, parotid, and jugulodigastric nodes and through the superoposterior trunk to retropharyngeal and jugular nodes.

Clinical Evaluation and Follow-up

Pretreatment evaluation and staging, as well as the need for multidisciplinary planning of treatment, is very important. Generally, the first opportunity to treat patients with head and neck cancers is the most effective, though occasionally salvage surgery or salvage radiation therapy, as appropriate, may be successful. Since most treatment failures occur within 2 years, the follow-up of patients must be frequent and meticulous during this period. In addition, because nearly 33% of these patients develop second primary cancers in the aerodigestive tract, a lifetime of follow-up is essential.

Carcinogenesis and Risk Factors

Some data indicate that various industrial exposures may be related to cancer of the paranasal sinus and nasal cavity. The risk of a second primary head and neck tumor is considerably increased.[4] A subgroup has shown that paranasal sinus and nasal cavity SCC are associated with human papilloma virus (HPV) infection and that HPV-positive patients may have a better prognosis than those who are HPV-negative.[5]

  1. Mendenhall WM, Werning JW, Pfister DG: Treatment of head and neck cancer. In: DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011, pp 729-80.
  2. Laramore GE, ed.: Radiation Therapy of Head and Neck Cancer. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1989.
  3. Thawley SE, Panje WR, Batsakis JG, et al., eds.: Comprehensive Management of Head and Neck Tumors. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders, 1999.
  4. Johns ME, Kaplan MJ: Advances in the management of paranasal sinus tumors. In: Wolf GT, ed.: Head and Neck Oncology. Boston, Mass: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1984, pp 27-52.
  5. Alos L, Moyano S, Nadal A, et al.: Human papillomaviruses are identified in a subgroup of sinonasal squamous cell carcinomas with favorable outcome. Cancer 115 (12): 2701-9, 2009. [PUBMED Abstract]