Causes and Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses of Nasal and Sinus Cancers

The exact cause of nasal and sinus cancers is unknown, but certain factors can increase your risk of developing these types of cancers. Risk factors include:

  • Being infected with human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Being male and older than 40 years
  • Smoking
  • Being exposed to certain workplace chemicals or dust, such as those found in the following jobs: furniture making, sawmill work, woodworking (carpentry), shoemaking, metal-plating, flour mill or bakery work

Tests and procedures used to diagnose nasal and sinus cancer include:

Clinical evaluation by a head and neck surgeon is required to accurately outline the stage of cancer. This includes a fiberoptic endoscopy in the office to assess the location and extent of tumor within the nose and sinuses.

A biopsy is necessary to confirm the tissue diagnosis. Often this can be performed in the office. However, sometimes a trip to the operating room may be necessary with the procedure performed under anesthesia.

Imaging studies, including a CT scan, MRI and a PET-CT scan, may be ordered to fully determine the anatomic extent of cancer at the primary site, and lymph nodes as well as to rule out any spread beyond the head and neck region into the lungs or bones.

You may also require an evaluation by a neurosurgeon (if the tumor extends into the cranial cavity) or an oculoplastic surgeon (if tumor extends into the eye cavity) for purposes of surgical planning.

For patients with tumor of the maxillary sinus that requires removal of portions of the hard palate, an evaluation by a prosthodontist for creating a dental and palatal obturator (an appliance that fits in the mouth to restore a defect) and a reconstructive surgeon (for consideration of repairing the defect with plastic surgery) may be necessary.

Related Resources

Useful Links
Paranasal Sinus and Nasal Cavity Cancer Treatment