Nasal and sinus cavity cancer is defined as abnormal structural growths that chiefly initiate in and around the passageway within your nose (i.e., nasal cavity). While nasal tumours mainly originate in the nasal cavity (i.e., the spaces around the nose where mucus is produced), the sinus cavity tumours begin in the air-filled chambers around the nose called the sinus cavity sinuses (i.e., the space behind the nose where air passes on its way to your lungs). 

Also Read: Laryngeal Cancer: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
Man with nasal and sinus cavity cancer

Both nasal and sinus cavity tumours can be either noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant). There are several types of nasal and sinus cavity cancers and the specific type of tumour one has helps determine the best possible treatment for the patient.


Just like any other form of cancer or tumorous growth, there is no set cause for both nasal and sinus cavity cancers, but certain scientific studies suggest that when there is a genetic mutation in the DNA of the cell, which aptly turns the normal, healthy cells into abnormal cells. These abnormal cells don't grow and multiply like the normal ones, rather they grow and multiply uncontrollably without dying, eventually accumulating to form a tumour or a cancerous growth.

In case, the abnormal cells become cancerous, they might gradually attack nearby healthy cells and tissues and get separated from the initial tumour to slowly spread or metastasize to other parts of the body.

Also Read: Nasopharyngeal Cancer: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Risk factors

Certain causative factors that may increase the risk of nasal and sinus cavity cancers include:

Age: Sinus cavity and nasal cancers are more common in people aged 40 or above than in the younger generation

Gender: Both forms of cancer are seen more in men than in their female counterparts

Exposure To Substances: If you are in constant exposure or breathing in certain substances like flour, dust, or chemicals, you could be at a higher incidence of nasal and sinus cavity cancer

Unhealthy Lifestyle Habits: Extreme consumption of tobacco or smoking aggravates the risk of nasal and sinus cavity cancer

Viral Infection: The common HMV or Human Papillomavirus makes one more susceptible to getting this type of cancer


Nasal and sinus cavity cancers are hard to identify as there are usually no signs of this type of cancer in the preliminary stages. The characteristic symptoms mainly tend to develop as the tumour grows in size and number. And gradually, when some of the symptoms do crop up, they chiefly mimic those of many other sinus-related issues. But the major difference between a sinus infection and nasal cavity cancer is that the symptoms don’t go away with time. Some of these characteristic symptoms include:

  • Ongoing congestion that gets worse
  • Sinus blockage or pressure
  • Bleeding from the nose
  • Sinus headaches
  • Runny nose
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Swelling of the face
  • Numbness or pain in the face
  • A sore lesion in the nose or mouth or on the face
  • Loosening of teeth
  • Pain or numbness of the teeth
  • Changes in eye pressure or vision
  • Watery eyes
  • Pressure or pain in the ear
  • Difficulty while breathing through your nose
  • Loss of the sense of smell
  • Nasal discharge
  • A lump in the neck
  • Difficulty in opening your mouth
  • Difficulty in swallowing

Diagnosis And Treatment

On recognizing any of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms, do consult a doctor right away to detect cancer or tumour right at the preliminary stage, so that the particular treatment can be started right away. The doctor usually does a thorough physical checkup, asserts the patient's past medical history, and exposure history followed by a series of diagnostics including:

  • Imaging methods like MRI-scan, PET-scan, CT-scan, X-ray, and Barium swallow
  • Nasal Endoscopy, to look for anything different inside the nasal cavity
  • Biopsy


After properly staging the nasal and sinus cancer,  the doctor usually decides the best possible way to deal with the tumour to give a promising life to the patient. The available treatment options include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Rehabilitation
  • Palliative care


To reduce the risk of nasal and sinus cavity tumours and cancers, one can:

  • Gradually lessen and finally stop smoking
  • Protect oneself at the workplace, if it involves exposure to harmful carcinogens daily by wearing overalls and a well-fitted face mask