Treating Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cancers

After your cancer is diagnosed and staged, your cancer care team will talk with you about your treatment options. Choosing a treatment plan is an important decision, so it's important to take time and think about all of your 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 overall 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 health, different treatment options may be used alone or in combination. For early-stage cancer that's small and hasn't spread, surgery may be all that's needed. For more advanced cancer (bigger cancers that may have spread), other treatments like radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or targeted therapy may be needed along with or instead of surgery. Be sure to ask your doctor to explain your cancer's stage and what it means for you so that you can make the best choice about your treatment.

Based on the treatment options, you may have different kinds 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's 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. It's often a good idea to get a second opinion. These are rare cancers, and not all hospitals and doctors have a lot of experience in treating them. A second opinion can give you more information and help you feel good about the treatment plan you choose.

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 help keep the tumor from growing or spreading 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 used to relieve symptoms such as pain, but it's not expected to cure the cancer.

Making treatment decisions

It’s important to discuss all treatment options, including their goals and possible side effects, so you can make the decision that best fits your needs. You may feel that you need to make a decision quickly, but it’s important to give yourself time to absorb the information you have learned. Ask your cancer care team questions. You can find some good questions to ask in Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cancer.

Getting a second opinion

You may want to get a second opinion. This can give you more information and help you feel more certain about the treatment plan you choose. If you aren’t sure where to go for a second opinion, ask your doctor for help.

Thinking about taking part in a clinical trial

Clinical trials are carefully controlled research studies that are done to get a closer look at promising new treatments or procedures. Clinical trials are one way to get state-of-the art cancer treatment. In some cases they may be the only way to get access to newer treatments. They are also the best way for doctors to learn better methods to treat cancer. Still, they're not right for everyone.

If you would like to learn more about clinical trials that might be right for you, start by asking your doctor if your clinic or hospital conducts clinical trials. See Clinical Trials to learn more.

Considering complementary and alternative methods

You may hear about alternative or complementary methods that your doctor hasn’t mentioned to treat your cancer or relieve symptoms. These methods can include vitamins, herbs, and special diets, or other methods such as acupuncture or massage, to name a few.

Complementary methods refer to treatments that are used along with your regular medical care. Alternative treatments are used instead of a doctor’s medical treatment. Although some of these methods might be helpful in relieving symptoms or helping you feel better, many have not been proven to work. Some might even be dangerous.

Be sure to talk to your cancer care team about any method you are thinking about using. They can help you learn what is known (or not known) about the method, which can help you make an informed decision. See Complementary and Alternative Medicine to learn more.

Choosing to stop treatment or choosing no treatment at all

For some people, when treatments have been tried and are no longer controlling the cancer, it could be time to weigh the benefits and risks of continuing to try new treatments. Whether or not you continue treatment, there are still things you can do to help maintain or improve your quality of life. Learn more in If Cancer Treatments Stop Working.

Some people, especially if the cancer is advanced, might not want to be treated at all. There are many reasons you might decide not to get cancer treatment, but it’s important to talk to your doctors and you make that decision. Remember that even if you choose not to treat the cancer, you can still get supportive care. to help with pain or other symptoms?.

Help getting through cancer treatment

Your cancer care team will be your first source of information and support, but there are other resources for help when you need it. Hospital- or clinic-based support services are an important part of your care. These might include nursing or social work services, financial aid, nutritional advice, rehab, or spiritual help.

The American Cancer Society also has programs and services – including rides to treatment, lodging, and more – to help you get through treatment. Call our National Cancer Information Center at 1-800-227-2345 and speak with one of our trained specialists.

The treatment information given here is not official policy of the American Cancer 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.