Treating Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cancers

This information represents the views of the doctors and nurses serving on the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Database Editorial Board. These views are based on their interpretation of studies published in medical journals, as well as their own professional experience.
The treatment information in this document is not official policy of the Society and is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor.
Your doctor may have reasons for suggesting a treatment plan different from these general treatment options. Don’t hesitate to ask him or her questions about your treatment options.

General treatment information

After your cancer is diagnosed and staged, your cancer care team will discuss your treatment options with you. Choosing a treatment plan is an important decision, so it is important to take time and think about all of the choices.

In creating your treatment plan, the most important factors to consider are the type, location, and the stage (extent) of the cancer. Your cancer care team will also take into account your general state of health and your personal preferences.

Treatment for nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancer may include:

Depending on the stage of the cancer and your general medical condition, different treatment options may be used alone or in combination. For early stage cancer, surgery may be all that is needed. For more advanced cancer, other treatments like radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or targeted therapy may be needed in addition to or instead of surgery. Be sure to ask your doctor to explain the stage of your cancer so that you can make the best choice about your treatment.

Based on the treatment options, you may have different types of doctors on your treatment team. These doctors may include:

  • An otolaryngologist: a doctor who specializes in certain diseases of the head and neck (also known as an ear, nose, and throat, or ENT doctor)
  • A neurosurgeon: a doctor who specializes in surgery on the brain, spine, and other parts of the nervous system.
  • A radiation oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with radiation therapy.
  • A medical oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with medicines such as chemotherapy.

Many other specialists may be involved in your care as well, including nurse practitioners, nurses, nutrition specialists, social workers, and other health professionals.

It is important to discuss all of your treatment options, including their goals and possible side effects, with your doctors to help make the decision that best fits your needs. If time permits, it is often a good idea to get a second opinion. A second opinion can give you more information and help you feel confident about your chosen treatment plan. These are uncommon cancers, and not all hospitals and doctors have a lot of experience in treating them.

If the cancer is too advanced to be cured, the goal may be to remove or destroy as much of the cancer as reasonable to keep the tumor from growing, spreading, or returning for as long as possible. Some of the treatments above can also be used as palliative treatment if all the cancer cannot be removed. Palliative treatment is meant to relieve symptoms such as pain, but it is not expected to cure the cancer.

The next few sections describe the different types of treatment for nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers. This is followed by a discussion of the most common treatment options based on the location and stage of the cancer.