Olfactory Neuroblastoma (Esthesioneuroblastoma)

Olfactory neuroblastoma, also known as esthesioneuroblastoma, is a rare cancer that develops in the empty space behind the nose. It starts in the nerves and tissues that affect your sense of smell. It may also grow upward toward the bone located between the eyes.



Olfactory neuroblastoma typically affects the nose. Olfactory neuroblastoma symptoms may include:

  • Chronic congestion on one side of the nose 
  • Loss of smell
  • Sinus infections

If the tumor is large or has spread, additional symptoms may include:

  • Facial swelling
  • Neurologic symptoms
  • Oral and/or vision problems


You’ll meet with your doctor for a physical exam and to discuss your symptoms. Your doctor may then order imaging tests, such as an MRI or a CT scan.

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Treatment Options

Dr. Amin Kassam, vice president for Neurosciences at Aurora Health Care, explains the Expanded Endonasal Approach, a minimally invasive surgery technique.

If you’re diagnosed with olfactory neuroblastoma, your Aurora care team, including neurologists and neurosurgeons, will work with you to develop the best possible treatment plan. Often, a combination of radiation therapy, chemotherapy and surgery is recommended. 

Your surgeon may perform the Expanded Endonasal Approach (EEA), a minimally invasive procedure in which the tumor is removed through the nasal passages, resulting in no incisions, a shorter hospital stay and faster recovery than traditional brain surgery.

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