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. Diagnosis in people without symptoms is rare and usually accidental (found while doing tests to check for other medical problems). Possible 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
  • Decreased or loss of sense of smell
  • Numbness or pain in parts of the face
  • Loosening or numbness of the teeth
  • Growth or mass of the face, nose, or palate (top of the mouth)
  • 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 master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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

Farag A, Rosen M, Evans J. Surgical Techniques for Sinonasal Malignancies. Neurosurg Clin N Am. 2015;26(3):403-412.

Lund VJ, Clarke PM, Swift AC, et al. Nose and paranasal sinus tumours: United Kingdom National Multidisciplinary Guidelines. J Laryngol Otol. 2016;130(S2):S111-S118.

National Cancer Institute. Paranasal Sinus and Nasal Cavity Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)–Patient Version. August 19, 2016. Accessed at www.cancer.gov/types/head-and-neck/patient/paranasal-sinus-treatment-pdq on November 13, 2017.

Last Medical Review: November 15, 2017 Last Revised: December 1, 2017

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