What are nasal and sinus tumors?

Although they are rare, sometimes tumors grow in the nasal passages and sinuses. You should have them treated as early as possible to get the best outcome. They can be in different parts of the sinuses and nasal passages, and can vary greatly in size and type.

If you have any of the symptoms of nasal and sinus tumors, it’s important to see a doctor immediately to begin creating a treatment plan.

Causes of nasal and sinus tumors

The American Cancer Society is not sure what causes nasal and sinus tumors. It has found several things that might increase your risk of getting them, however.

Risk factors for nasal and sinus tumors

Two of the biggest things that increase your risk of forming nasal and sinus tumors are using tobacco and drinking alcohol a lot. Tobacco products include cigars, cigarettes, pipes and chewing tobacco) and heavy alcohol use. However, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, other risk factors include:

  • Age — this condition occurs most often in people between the ages of 45 and 85.
  • Gender — men are twice as likely as women to get nasal and sinus tumors.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) — people infected with HPV are at a greater risk.
  • Inhalants — breathing in such things as fumes, asbestos, dust and glue (usually in a work environment) over a long period increases your risk.
  • Air pollution — living in an area where there is a lot of air pollution could also put you at risk.

Symptoms of nasal and sinus tumors

There are several different warning signs of  nasal and sinus tumors. Some of your symptoms can include:

  • Nosebleeds
  • Nasal congestion and stuffiness
  • Pain around your eyes
  • Blockage on one side of your nose
  • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck
  • Drainage in the back of your nose and throat
  • Loss of smell
  • Growth or mass in your face or nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Bulging in one eye
  • Hearing loss
  • Pain or pressure in your ears
  • Difficulty opening your mouth
  • Headaches

Diagnosis of nasal and sinus tumors

These tumors may be a sign of cancer, which is why it is important not to ignore ongoing symptoms. You’ll begin with a visit to your doctor for a full exam of your head, including checking for numbness and swelling. Your doctor will then send you to an otolaryngologist, who specializes in diseases of the ear, nose and throat, for an exam. An otolaryngologist is an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor. The ENT will examine your nasal and sinus passages and probably your entire head and neck.

If these exams reveal tumors, your doctor will order other tests, including x-rays and imaging tests. These help the doctor learn more about the tumor to decide the best treatment plan for you.

Treatments for nasal and sinus tumors

The best treatments for nasal and sinus tumors depends on the stage (how advanced it is) of the cancer and how healthy you are. Surgery treats early-stage cancers. More advanced cancer probably needs treatments including radiation therapy, chemotherapy or targeted therapy. Targeted therapy uses medications that have fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy drugs.

Your doctor may also use palliative treatment. This helps control the pain and focuses on easing symptoms that the other forms of therapy often cause.

Recovery from nasal and sinus tumors

Recovery from nasal and sinus tumors is different for each person. In some cases, your treatment may completely get rid of the cancer. However, that’s not always the case. If so, you would get a regular treatment program using chemotherapy or targeted therapy to keep the cancer from spreading.

Either way, once you have been diagnosed and treated for this form of cancer, you’ll need to work closely with your doctor to follow good lifestyle habits and to lower your risk of having it return. You’ll need an examination every three months for the first year, and then at least once a year after that.

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