Living as a Nasal Cavity or Paranasal Sinus Cancer Survivor

For some people with nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancer, treatment may remove or destroy the cancer. The end of treatment can be both stressful and exciting. You may be relieved to finish treatment, but yet it’s hard not to worry about cancer coming back. This is very common if you’ve had cancer.

For other people, the cancer might never go away completely. Some people may get regular chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or other treatments to try and help keep the cancer in check. Learning to live with cancer that does not go away can be difficult and very stressful. 

Life after cancer means returning to some familiar things and also making some new choices.

Follow-up care

If you have completed treatment, your doctors will still want to watch you closely. It's 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 done shortly after you finish treatment or if new symptoms develop to check for cancer that has come back (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.

If cancer does come back (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 Treatment Options by Type, Location, and Stage of Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cancer. For more general information on dealing with a recurrence, you may also want to see Understanding 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 from 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.

Ask your doctor for a survivorship care plan

Talk with your doctor about developing a survivorship care plan for you. This plan might include: 

  • A suggested schedule for follow-up exams and tests
  • A schedule for other tests you might need in the future, such as early detection (screening) tests for other types of cancer, or tests to look for long-term health effects from your cancer or its treatment
  • A list of possible late- or long-term side effects from your treatment, including what to watch for and when you should contact your doctor
  • Diet and physical activity suggestions
  • Reminders to keep your appointments with your primary care provider (PCP), who will monitor your general health care 

Keeping health insurance and copies of your medical records

Even after treatment, it’s very important to keep 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.

At some point after your cancer treatment, you might find yourself seeing a new doctor who doesn’t know about your medical history. It’s important to keep copies of your medical records to give your new doctor the details of your diagnosis and treatment. Learn more in Keeping Copies of Important Medical Records.

Can I lower my risk of the nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancer progressing or coming back?

If you have (or have had) nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancer, you probably want to know if there are things you can do that might lower your risk of the cancer growing or coming back, such as exercising, eating a certain type of diet, or taking nutritional supplements. Unfortunately, it’s not yet clear if there are things you can do that will help.

Adopting healthy behaviors such as not smokingeating wellgetting regular physical activity, and staying at a healthy weight might help, but no one knows for sure. However, we do know that these types of changes can have positive effects on your health that can extend beyond your risk of nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancer or other cancers.

About dietary supplements

So far, no dietary supplements (including vitamins, minerals, and herbal products) have been shown to clearly help lower the risk of nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancer cancer progressing or coming back. This doesn’t mean that no supplements will help, but it’s important to know that none have been proven to do so.

Dietary supplements are not regulated like medicines in the United States – they don't have to be proven effective (or even safe) before being sold, although there are limits on what they’re allowed to claim they can do. If you’re thinking about taking any type of nutritional supplement, talk to your health care team. They can help you decide which ones you can use safely while avoiding those that might be harmful.

If the cancer comes back

If the cancer does recur at some point, your treatment options will depend on where the cancer is located, what treatments you’ve had before, and your health. For more information on how recurrent cancer is treated, see Treatment Options by Type, Location, and Stage of Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cancer .

For more general information, you may also want to see Understanding Recurrence.

Second cancers after treatment

People who’ve had nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancer cancer can still get other cancers. In fact, nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancer cancer survivors are at higher risk for getting some other types of cancer. Learn more in Second Cancers After Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cancer.

Getting emotional support

Some amount of feeling depressed, anxious, or worried is normal when cancer is a part of your life. Some people are affected more than others. But everyone can benefit from help and support from other people, whether friends and family, religious groups, support groups, professional counselors, or others. Learn more in Life After Cancer.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Revised: December 1, 2017

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