What Is Nasal and Sinus Cancer?
The nasal cavity is the space inside your nose through which air passes after entering through your nostrils. The right and left nasal cavities are separated by a partition called the nasal septum. A thin partition of bone separates the top of the nasal cavity from the cranial cavity, which contains your brain. Paranasal sinuses are air-containing cavities in your face that connect with the air space in the nasal cavity. Together, the nasal cavity and the sinuses help warm and moisten the air we breathe before it reaches our lungs.
A variety of different types of tumors can arise within your nose and the sinuses. There are differences in the behavior of these tumors which can impact the choice of therapy and prognosis.
These tumors can spread into the orbit (the bony socket containing the eyes) and into your brain due to the proximity of these structures to your nose and sinuses.
The most common type of paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer is squamous cell carcinoma. This type of cancer forms in the squamous cells (thin, flat cells) lining the inside of the paranasal sinuses and the nasal cavity. Other types of paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer include the following:
- Melanoma: Cancer that starts in cells called melanocytes, the cells that give skin its natural color.
- Sarcoma: Cancer that starts in muscle or connective tissue.
- Inverting papilloma: Benign tumors that form inside the nose. A small number of these change into cancer.
- Midline granulomas: Cancer of tissues in the middle part of the face.