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Can Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cancers Be Found Early?

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Small cancers of the nasal cavity (nose) and paranasal sinuses usually do not cause any specific symptoms that help doctors find them at an early stage (when they're small and easier to treat). Many of the symptoms of nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers can also be caused by benign (non-cancer) conditions like infections. Because of this, many of these cancers aren't found until they have grown large enough to block the nasal airway or sinuses, or until they've spread to nearby tissues or even to distant parts of the body.

Still, some nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers can be found early. Talk to your doctor if you have symptoms such as those described in Signs and Symptoms of Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cancers. Most of these symptoms are much more likely to be caused by less serious problems. Still, it’s important to see a doctor so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed.

Screening

Screening refers to tests and exams to find a disease, such as cancer or pre-cancer, in people who don't have any symptoms. Screening can find some types of cancer early, when treatment tends to work best. But at this time there's no simple screening test that can find nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers early. These cancers are also quite rare. Because of this, neither the American Cancer Society nor any other group recommends routine screening for these cancers at this time.

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 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.

Last Revised: April 19, 2021

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