Nasal / Sinus Cancer

About the condition

Nasal and sinus cancer affects the nasal cavity (above the roof of your mouth) and the sinuses (small, air-filled cavities inside your nose, behind your cheekbones and forehead). Nasal and sinus cancer occurs when the genetic material of cells in the nose and/or become damaged or changed, producing mutations that affect normal cell growth and division.

The abnormal cells then replicate, causing cancer. If undetected, the cancer can spread beyond the nose and sinus, and move to other parts of the body. Nasal and sinus cancer is rare in the UK, with only 460 cases diagnosed each year. The precise causes of nasal and sinus cancer are unknown, although several factors are known to increase the risk of developing the condition.


The most common symptoms of nasal and sinus cancer are similar to viral or bacterial infections, such as the common cold or sinusitis, and include:

  • a persistent blocked nose, which usually only affects one side
  • nosebleeds (epistaxis)
  • a decreased sense of smell
  • mucus running from the nose or down the throat

Other symptoms often appear at a later stage, and include:

  • pain or numbness in the face, particularly the cheek or above the eye
  • enlarged lymph nodes in the neck
  • partial loss of vision or double vision
  • a bulging eye (proptosis)
  • severe headaches

If any of these symptoms apply to you, or if you have any concerns about similar symptoms, it is essential that you see your doctor at once, as your chances of recovery are much higher if your cancer is diagnosed early. Alternatively you can book an appointment with one of our specialists by completing this form online or by calling 020 8247 3351.


If you’re referred to CCL for diagnosis, your consultant or oncologist will advise you on which tests are relevant to your individual symptoms. Tests to diagnose nasal and sinus cancer include:

  • A Nasendoscopy, which is where a thin, flexible telescope (endoscope) is inserted up your nose and passed down your throat to look for any abnormalities
  • A Computerised Tomography scan, which shows a 3D image of the area being looked at
  • An MRI scan, which is a procedure that uses radio waves and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body
  • An X-ray, which is when low level radiation is used to create an image of the body
  • A biopsy, where cell samples are taken for examination
  • A Fine Needle Aspiration where a piece of tissue is taken from a lump, using a very thin needle


At CCL, patients with nasal and sinus cancer are treated by a specialist multidisciplinary team. This team works together to create a treatment plan to suit the individual needs of the patient. The best treatment for nasal and sinus cancer depends on several factors, including the stage of your cancer and your general health.

Treatment usually includes a combination of:

  • Surgery to remove a tumour – which can be performed using surgical incisions (open surgery) or as keyhole surgery through the nose (endoscopic microsurgery)
  • Radiotherapy, where high-energy rays destroy the cancer cells
  • Chemotherapy, where chemical agents destroy the cancer cells preventing them from spreading to different areas.

Both radiotherapy and chemotherapy can be used before surgery, to shrink the tumour before it is removed, or after surgery to improve patient outcome and lower chances of recurrence. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy can also be used to treat nasal and sinus cancer, without any form of surgery.

Other treatments include:

  • Biotherapy, which is the use of newer and more targeted therapies to assist the body in fighting the disease

Support Services

At CCL we provide support that caters to both the physical and emotional needs of the patient, before, during and after treatment.

We offer a wide range of services for patients, as well as their loved ones, designed to make a very difficult time as easy as possible, and to give our patients the best treatment and support possible. Our support services include counselling, group sessions and much more. You can find the full range of our support services here. We’ll be with you every step of the way.

Book now

If you have any questions about nasal and sinus cancer or would like to book an appointment with one of our nasal and sinus cancer specialists, complete this form online or call 020 8247 3351.


Cancer Centre London

Parkside Hospital

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