Sinus and Nasal Cavity Cancer

Nasal and sinus cavity tumors are rare but are of special concern due to their close location to the eyes and brain. The most common tumors are squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.

Sinus cancers are categorized into Stages 0, I, II, III, and IV. The stage is considered more advanced as a tumor grows and involves more areas of the sinuses.

For more detailed, technical information about nasal and sinus cavity cancer, please read our sinus and nasal cavity cancer patient information sheet.

The physicians at UT Southwestern Medical Center are experts at diagnosing and treating the condition.


Early symptoms are often nonspecific and may be confused with allergies or a sinus infection. As tumors grow, they may cause nasal blockage or bleeding. Larger tumors can cause severe headaches or blurry vision.

Other symptoms include:

  • Blocked nasal passageway that does not clear
  • Blurry or double vision, or swelling of the eyes
  • Decreased or loss of sense of smell
  • Frequent headaches or pain affecting the sinus region
  • Growth on the face, nose, or palate
  • Loosening, pain, or numbness of the teeth
  • Numbness in cheek or other parts of the face
  • Problems with dentures
  • Pus draining from the nose


Doctors have a number of ways to diagnose these cancers.

Tests include:

  • Nasal endoscopy
  • Computed tomography (CT) scans
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)


At UT Southwestern, our physicians participate in a multidisciplinary skull base tumor board that works closely together to optimize the care of these difficult tumors. Some of the treatment options we offer include:


This treatment option is used in select cases of aggressive sinus cancers 
before or after surgery. It may also be used to treat recurrent cancer.

Radiation therapy

This treatment uses high-dose X-rays or other high-energy rays to 
kill cancer cells. Radiation is typically used after surgery to minimize the risk of cancer recurrence.


Nasal and sinus cavity tumors traditionally had to be removed through
 an incision on the face and the removal of the forehead bone flap, a procedure known as a craniotomy. The development of minimally invasive endoscopic resection now makes it
 possible to remove the tumor directly through the nose. Endoscopic surgery decreases complications and leads to quicker recovery times.

Tumors with extensive brain involvement may 
still require a craniotomy.


Your recovery depends on the location and type of the cancer, the stage of the cancer, and your general state of health. The five-year survival rates range from 80 to 90 percent for small cancers that have not spread to 10 to 20 percent for advanced cancers.