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Nasal Cancer/Sinus Cancer

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What are nasal cancer and sinus cancer?

Nasal cancer and sinus cancer are diseases in which cancerous cells are found in the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses.

There are many different types of sinonasal cancers:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Adenoid cystic carcinoma
  • Esthesioneuroblastoma (olfactory neuroblastoma)
  • Sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma
nasal cavity drawing

What are the symptoms of nasal cancer and sinus cancer?

Symptoms of nasal and sinus cancer include nasal blockage that is not relieved by blowing your nose and nose bleeds. Other symptoms include facial swelling, loosened upper teeth, nasal pain and double vision.

What causes nasal and sinus cancer?

Nasal cavity or sinus cancer may be related to gene mutations or environmental factors. Johns Hopkins experts are actively conducting research to understand the role and impact of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in nasal and sinus tumors.

HPV-Associated Nasal and Sinus Cancers:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • HPV-related multiphenotypic carcinoma
  • Sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma (SNUC)
  • Nasopharyngeal carcinoma
  • Small cell carcinoma
HPV virus

The Johns Hopkins Center for HPV-Related Head and Neck Cancer

Johns Hopkins physicians have been at the forefront of identifying several types of sinus and nasal tumors due to HPV. Our center offers:

  • State of the art HPV testing used it to diagnose a spectrum of sinus and nasal cancers
  • If you receive a diagnosis of nasal or sinus cancer known to commonly be associated with HPV your provider will test the tumor for HPV. A specialized treatment team including fellowship trained skull base surgeons specializing in these tumors, pathologist, radiation oncologist and medical oncologist will recommend a tailored treatment plan including surgery, radiation or proton therapy, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy.

How are nasal cancer and sinus cancers diagnosed?

Nasal cancer and sinus cancers are diagnosed by using imaging techniques (X-rayMRICT scan) and by taking a biopsy of the tumor. This biopsy can sometimes be done in the clinic while scoping a patient, however in many cases it may need to be performed in the operating room.

How are nasal cancer and sinus cancer treated?

Treatment for nasal and since cancer may include a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

If surgery is necessary to remove the tumor your surgeon may perform minimally invasive surgery with or without the assistance of a robot. Minimally invasive surgery uses an endoscope through the nostril or a surgical opening to remove cancerous tumor tissue. If you are not a candidate for minimally invasive surgery your surgeon may perform an open surgical procedure.

Radiation therapy is may also be incorporated into your treatment plan. Chemotherapy is often used for sinonasal tumor types known to respond well to chemotherapy. The use of immunotherapy for these patients is an active area of research and clinical trials.

HPV-Related Head and Neck Cancer Clinical Trials

Learn more about clinical trials 

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