Palliative Treatment for Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cancers

Most of our information about nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer discusses ways to remove or to destroy cancer cells or to slow their growth. But it's important to remember that maintaining a patient’s quality of life is another important goal. This is true in all cases -- whether treatment is being used to try to cure the cancer or if the cancer has spread and cannot be cured.

If the goal of treatment is a cure, palliative treatments can help ease symptoms from the main cancer treatment itself. If the cancer is advanced, palliative treatment may play an even larger role, helping to keep the person comfortable and maintain quality of life for as long as possible.

For example, pain is a significant concern for many patients with cancer. It can almost always be treated effectively with milder drugs like ibuprofen or acetaminophen or, if needed, with stronger medicines like morphine or similar drugs (known as opioids). Taking these drugs does not mean a person will become addicted. Many studies have shown that people with cancer who take opioids for pain as their doctor directed typically do not become addicted.

Nutrition is another important concern for people with head and neck cancers such as nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancers. Both the cancer and its treatment can make it hard to swallow. If this affects how a person eats or drinks, they may need to have a feeding tube inserted into the stomach. Often, this is placed with an endoscope (a flexible tube that goes into the stomach through the throat) and is known as a PEG (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy). This tube will most likely be needed for a short time during treatment, but in some cases it may need to be left in longer.

There are many other ways your doctor can help maintain your quality of life and control your symptoms. But this means that you have to tell your doctor how you are feeling and what symptoms you are having. Some people don’t like to disappoint their doctors by telling them they are not feeling well. This does no one any good. Your doctor wants to know how you really feel. Talking about the symptoms you are having allows your doctor to give treatments that can relieve the symptoms. Getting effective treatment can help you feel better and let you concentrate on the things that are important in your life.

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

American Cancer Society medical information is copyrighted material. For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.