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Cancers on the outside skin of the nose are typically skin cancers, so see that section if you’re interested in learning more about cancers on the outside of the nose. This section covers cancers inside of the nose (the nasal cavity) and the paranasal sinuses (air-filled spaces in the head around the nasal cavity). These are called sinonasal cancers.
Of all sinonasal cancers, maxillary sinus cancers are the most common, followed closely by cancers of the nasal cavity and ethmoid sinus cancer. Sphenoid and frontal sinus cancers are extremely rare.1 Dulguerov P, Jacobsen MS, Allal AS, Lehmann W, Calcaterra T. Nasal and paranasal sinus carcinoma: are we making progress? A series of 220 patients and a systematic review. Cancer. 2001 Dec 15;92(12):3012-29. Most cancers in this region are squamous cell cancers. However, there are a number of tumors in this region that are benign (non-cancerous), including:
Technology has helped us diagnose these cancers better. Doctors can use nasal endoscopy (telescopes and cameras inside the nose) to see areas we can’t see just by looking in the front of the nose. Also, advances in MRI and CT scanning help us look at the anatomy inside the head much better. Finally, functional tests like PET scans may also help with diagnosis and extent of cancers in this region. We also have many more tools to treat cancers in this complex area, which has several important structures nearby.
Here are some facts about sinonasal cancers:
An overview of the basics of nose and sinus cancer.Nasal Cancer
Nasal cancer begins inside the nose, in the nasal cavity. Explore this page to learn more about nasal cancer.Sinus Cancer
Sinus cancer begins in the paranasal sinuses, the air-filled spaces inside the head. Explore this page to learn more about sinus cancer.
1 Dulguerov P, Jacobsen MS, Allal AS, Lehmann W, Calcaterra T. Nasal and paranasal sinus carcinoma: are we making progress? A series of 220 patients and a systematic review. Cancer. 2001 Dec 15;92(12):3012-29.
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7 Wieneke JA, Thompson LD, Wenig BM. Basaloid squamous cell carcinoma of the sinonasal tract. Cancer. 1999 Feb 15;85(4):841-54.
8 Marcus DM, Marcus RP, Prabhu RS, Owonikoko TK, Lawson DH, Switchenko J, Beitler JJ. Rising incidence of mucosal melanoma of the head and neck in the United States. J Skin Cancer. 2012;2012:231693. doi: 10.1155/2012/231693. Epub 2012 Dec 2.
9 Edge SB, et al. The AJCC Cancer Staging Manual – Seventh Edition. American Joint Committee on Cancer 2010. Chapter 9: Mucosal Melanoma of the Head and Neck.
10 Ejaz A, Wenig BM. Sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma: clinical and pathologic features and a discussion on classification, cellular differentiation, and differential diagnosis. Adv Anat Pathol. 2005 May;12(3):134-43.
11 Perez-Ordonez B, Caruana SM, Huvos AG, Shah JP. Small cell neuroendocrine carcinoma of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses. Hum Pathol. 1998 Aug;29(8):826-32.
12 Spiro JD, Soo KC, Spiro RH. Nonsquamous cell malignant neoplasms of the nasal cavities and paranasal sinuses. Head Neck. 1995;17:114-118.
13 Referenced with permission from The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) for Head and Neck Cancers V.2.2016. © National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc 2016. All rights reserved. Accessed December 6, 2016. To view the most recent and complete version of the guideline, go online to www.NCCN.org.