Sinus Cancer


Sinus cancer is the growth of malignant (cancerous) cells in any of the paranasal sinuses – hollow, air-filled spaces in the bones near the nose or the nasal cavity.

You have 4 types of paranasal sinuses:

  • Ethmoid sinuses: Beside the upper nose, between the eyes
  • Frontal sinuses: In your lower forehead, above the nose
  • Maxillary sinuses: In your cheekbones, on either side of the nose
  • Sphenoid sinuses: Behind the nose, in the center of the skull


Most sinus cancer is found in the sinuses in your cheekbones. Sinus cancer is most often found in people over the age of 40, although it can occur at any age.

Risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • Exposure to certain chemicals or dust from jobs such as sawmill work, leather tanning, woodworking, flour mill or bakery work, and welding or soldering.
Sinus cancer and maxillary sinus cancer symptoms include:

  • Blocked sinuses
  • Changes in vision, such as double vision
  • Chronic headaches
  • Lump on the face or roof of your mouth
  • Lump or sore inside your nose 
  • Nosebleed, especially from one nostril
  • Pain in the upper teeth or loose teeth
  • Pain or pressure in your ear
  • Runny nose, especially on one side
  • Sinus pain or pressure
  • Tingling or numbness in your face


First, you’ll meet with your doctor for a physical exam. If your doctor finds possible signs of sinus cancer, he or she will order more tests, including:

Imaging tests: Scans including CT, MRI, PET scans and X-rays help confirm if a tumor exists and if it’s spread to other areas.

Sinus endoscopy: A thin, lighted tube (nasoscope) is inserted into the nose. This allows your doctor to look for possible abnormal tissue inside your sinuses.

Biopsy: The removal of a small piece of tissue that’s suspected of being cancerous.

Treatment Options

The head and neck specialists at Aurora will work with you to determine the best treatment options. This will depend on the stage and grade of the cancer, if it’s spread and your general health.

Treatment may include:

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