Signs and Symptoms of Nasal and Paranasal Sinus Cancers

In most cases, nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers are found because of problems they cause. Finding these cancers in people without symptoms is rare and usually accidental (while doing tests to check for other medical problems). Possible signs and symptoms of these cancers (often only on one side) include:

  • Nasal congestion and stuffiness that doesn’t get better or even worsens
  • Pain above or below the eyes
  • Blockage of one side of the nose
  • Post-nasal drip (nasal drainage in the back of the nose and throat)
  • Nosebleeds
  • Pus draining from the nose
  • Problems with your sense of smell
  • Numbness or pain in parts of the face
  • Loosening or numbness of teeth
  • A lump or mass on the face, palate (top of the mouth), or inside the nose
  • Constant watery eyes
  • Bulging of one eye
  • Loss or change in vision
  • Pain or pressure in one of the ears
  • Hearing loss
  • Headache
  • Trouble opening the mouth
  • Enlarging lymph nodes in the neck (seen or felt as lumps under the skin)

Having one or more of these symptoms doesn't mean you have nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancer. In fact, many of these symptoms are more likely to be caused by other conditions. Still, if you have any of these symptoms, it's important to have them checked by a doctor so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed. If treatment (like with an antibiotic) doesn't work, be sure to go back to your doctor for more testing.

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.

Bossi P, Farina D, Gatta G, et al. Paranasal sinus cancer. Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2016;98:45-61. 

Dagan R, Amdur RJ, Dziegielewski PT. Tumors of the nasal cavity. Shah S, ed. UpToDate. Waltham, Mass.: UpToDate, 2020. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/tumors-of-the-nasal-cavity. Accessed November 06, 2020.

Leeman JE, Katabi N, Wong, RJ, Lee NY, Romesser PB. Chapter 65 - Cancer of the Head and Neck. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier; 2020.

Mendenhall WM, Dziegielewski PT, Pfister DG. Chapter 45- Cancer of the Head and Neck. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2019.

National Cancer Institute. Paranasal Sinus and Nasal Cavity Cancer Treatment (PDQ)–Patient Version. November 06, 2019. Accessed at www.cancer.gov/types/head-and-neck/patient/paranasal-sinus-treatment-pdq on November 09, 2020.

References

Bossi P, Farina D, Gatta G, et al. Paranasal sinus cancer. Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2016;98:45-61. 

Dagan R, Amdur RJ, Dziegielewski PT. Tumors of the nasal cavity. Shah S, ed. UpToDate. Waltham, Mass.: UpToDate, 2020. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/tumors-of-the-nasal-cavity. Accessed November 06, 2020.

Leeman JE, Katabi N, Wong, RJ, Lee NY, Romesser PB. Chapter 65 - Cancer of the Head and Neck. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier; 2020.

Mendenhall WM, Dziegielewski PT, Pfister DG. Chapter 45- Cancer of the Head and Neck. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2019.

National Cancer Institute. Paranasal Sinus and Nasal Cavity Cancer Treatment (PDQ)–Patient Version. November 06, 2019. Accessed at www.cancer.gov/types/head-and-neck/patient/paranasal-sinus-treatment-pdq on November 09, 2020.

Last Revised: April 19, 2021

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