Paranasal Sinus Cancer

There are several areas of the Paranasal Sinuses where malignant tumours can form. The paranasal sinuses are hollow areas around the nose which produce mucus which prevents the nose from drying out when breathing.

There are several sinuses: the frontal sinuses (lower forehead), the maxillary sinuses (cheekbones either side of the nose), ethmoid sinuses (upper nose/between the eyes) and sphenoid sinuses (behind the nose).

The most common cancer is the sinuses are squamous cell carcinoma - the cancer affects the soft lining of these areas much like in oropharyngeal cancer. There have also been cases of melanoma (the cancer starts in the meloncytes which give skin it’s colour, sarcoma (the cancer starts in muscle or connective tissue), an inverting papilloma (tumours form which are often benign but which can become malignant) and midline granulomas (affecting tissue in the middle of the face). 


There are a few symptoms that you can indicate you have developed Paranasal Sinus Cancer. The symptoms are often fairly innocuous but you should go and see your doctor if they persist for a prolonged period of time - more than 3 weeks. The chances of you having cancer will be low but you it is far better to get checked over than to remain anxious and worried:

  • blocked sinuses which do not clear

  • pain behind the nose or teeth

  • eyes become swollen

  • facial numbness

  • persistent nosebleeds

  • headaches

  • voice changes

  • double vision

The chances of developing paranasal cancer are very low and your symptoms are likely to be indicative of something less serious - however, if they persist and you are worried, make an appointment with your GP and get your doctor to examine you.

Early detection always improves outcomes for all cancer and this is true of paranasal sinus cancer. Do not ignore symptoms if they persist for a prolonged period of time but have your GP check you over. You can locate your nearest GP here.

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