What’s New in Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cancer Research and Treatment?

There is always research going on in the area of nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers. Scientists are looking for ways to prevent nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers. Research on better treatment for nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers is now being done at many medical centers, university hospitals, and other institutions across the nation. Doctors and patients are urged to contact the nearest cancer center to find out what clinical trials are going on in their community.


There are no known inherited tendencies for nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer, but scientists are finding some of the changes in the genes in these cancers that occur during the patient’s lifetime. These changes are what transform normal cells into cancer cells.

Understanding these gene changes may help doctors develop better methods of diagnosing this disease as well as treatments that are more effective and have fewer side effects than ones currently available.

For example, researchers have found that many head and neck cancers have mutations (changes) of the tumor suppressor gene TP53. These changes lead to additional mutations of other genes, which make the cells better able to grow and spread. Scientists have tried gene therapies to give good copies of this gene, but so far the results have been disappointing.



Surgeons are looking at newer ways of removing these cancers while trying to do as little damage as possible to nearby normal tissues. One example of a newer technique is endoscopic surgery, in which certain tumors can be removed using long, thin instruments passed through the nose. It may be useful only for certain tumors, but if it can be used it may significantly reduce some of the side effects a person has.

Radiation therapy

Doctors are always looking at newer ways of focusing radiation on tumors more precisely to help them get more radiation to the tumor while limiting side effects to nearby areas. This is especially important for head and neck tumors like nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers, where there are often many important structures very close to the tumor. With more powerful computers and newer radiation techniques, doctors are now able to plan and deliver radiation therapy more precisely than ever before.

Clinical trials are also studying ways to make radiation therapy more effective by using radiosensitizers. These drugs make cancer cells more sensitive to radiation therapy. Other studies are testing radioprotective agents. These drugs protect normal cells from damage by radiation and thereby reduce side effects of radiation therapy. Reducing side effects not only helps people feel better during treatment, but may also help people tolerate higher radiation doses that can kill more cancer cells.

Targeted therapies

Clinical trials are studying several targeted therapies that block the action of the substances (such as growth factors and growth factor receptors) that cause head and neck cancers to grow and spread. Some of the drugs being studied include erlotinib, sunitinib, sorafenib, lapatinib, and nimotuzumab. Many of these studies are testing combinations of targeted therapies plus chemo or radiation.

Because nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers are rare, nearly all of these clinical trials include patients with other types of head and neck cancer as well. Although these studies are not specific to nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers, doctors will be able to apply their results to choosing treatment for patients with nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: April 22, 2014 Last Revised: August 8, 2016

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