What happens after treatment for nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancer?
For some people with nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancer, treatment may remove or destroy the cancer. Completing treatment can be both stressful and exciting. You may be relieved to finish treatment, but find it hard not to worry about cancer growing or coming back. (When cancer comes back after treatment, it is called recurrence.) This is a very common concern in people who have had cancer.
It may take a while before your fears lessen. But it may help to know that many cancer survivors have learned to live with this uncertainty and are leading full lives. Our document Living With Uncertainty: The Fear of Cancer Recurrence gives more detailed information on this.
For other people, the cancer may never go away completely. These people may get regular treatments with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or other therapies to help keep the cancer in check for as long as possible. Learning to live with cancer as a more of a chronic disease can be difficult and very stressful. It has its own type of uncertainty. Our document When Cancer Doesn’t Go Away talks more about this.
If you have completed treatment, your doctors will still want to watch you closely. It is very important to go to all follow-up appointments. People with cancer of the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses are at risk for developing recurrences, so they must be observed closely after treatment. Your health care team will discuss which tests should be done and how often based on the type and initial stage of your cancer, the type of treatment you received, and the response to that treatment.
Experts typically recommend a doctor’s exam at least every 3 months for the first year after treatment. After a year, the exams can occur less often. For someone who was treated with radiation to the neck, blood tests to look at thyroid function may be needed.
The cancer care team will recommend which other tests should be done and how often. CT or MRI scans of the head and neck and other imaging tests may be ordered shortly after you finish treatment and if new symptoms develop to check for a recurrence or for a new tumor.
Almost any cancer treatment can have side effects. Some may last for a few weeks to several months, but others can last the rest of your life. Don’t hesitate to tell your cancer care team about any symptoms or side effects that bother you so they can help you manage them.
It’s very important to report any new symptoms to the doctor right away, because they may prompt your doctor to do tests that could help find recurrent cancer as early as possible, when the likelihood of successful treatment is greatest.
It’s important to keep your health insurance. Tests and doctor visits cost a lot, and even though no one wants to think of their cancer coming back, this could happen.
If cancer does recur, treatment will depend on the location of the cancer and what treatments you’ve had before. For more information on how recurrent cancer is treated, see the section “Treatment options by type, location, and stage for nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers.” For more general information on dealing with a recurrence, you may also want to see the document When Your Cancer Comes Back: Cancer Recurrence.
Help for trouble swallowing and nutrition problems
Cancers of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses and their treatments can sometimes cause problems such as trouble swallowing, dry mouth, or even loss of teeth. This can make it hard to eat, which can lead to weight loss and weakness due to poor nutrition.
Some people may need to adjust what they eat during and after treatment. Some may even need a feeding tube placed into the stomach for a short time after treatment. A team of doctors and nutritionists can work with you to provide nutritional supplements and information about your individual nutritional needs. This can help you maintain your weight and nutritional intake.
Seeing a new doctor
At some point after your cancer diagnosis and treatment, you may find yourself seeing a new doctor who does not know anything about your medical history. It’s important that you be able to give your new doctor the details of your diagnosis and treatment. Gathering these details soon after treatment may be easier than trying to get them at some point in the future. Make sure you have the following information handy:
- A copy of your pathology report(s) from any biopsies or surgeries
- Copies of imaging tests (CT or MRI scans, etc.), which can usually be stored on a CD, DVD, etc.
- If you had surgery, a copy of your operative report(s)
- If you were in the hospital, a copy of the discharge summary that doctors prepare when patients are sent home
- If you had radiation therapy, a summary of the type and dose of radiation and when and where it was given
- If you had drug treatment, such as chemotherapy or targeted therapy, a list of the drugs, drug doses, and when you took them
The doctor may want copies of this information for his records, but always keep copies for yourself.
Last Medical Review: 04/22/2014
Last Revised: 04/30/2014
- What Is Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cancer?
- Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention
- Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging
- Treating Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cancer
- Talking With Your Doctor
- After Treatment
- What`s New in Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cancer Research?
- Other Resources and References