Head and Neck Cancer

15 February, 2023

Nose cancer, also known as nasal cancer, is a type of cancer that starts in the sinuses, the cavities around the nose. It is rare, accounting for less than 1% of all cancers. However, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of nose cancer so it can be diagnosed early.

The most common symptom of nose cancer is a persistent blockage of the sinuses, which can lead to difficulty breathing. Other symptoms include a loss of smell, a persistent headache, and pain in the face or teeth. If you experience any of these symptoms, you must see a doctor to make a diagnosis. Early detection of nose cancer is crucial for successful treatment. 

In this article, we talk about the early signs, symptoms, and diagnosis of nose cancer.

What is Nose Cancer?

As discussed above, nose cancer starts in the sinuses and the cavities around the nose. While the exact cause of nose cancer is unknown, it is thought to be linked to factors such as smoking and long-term exposure to workplace irritants or radiation. Nose cancer can occur in different parts of the nose, such as the paranasal sinuses, the nasal cavities, the septum, or the turbinates. A common type of nose cancer is squamous cell carcinoma, which begins in the thin, flat cells that line the nose. Other types of nose cancer include adenocarcinoma, lymphoma, and melanoma.

What are the symptoms of nose cancer?

Nose cancer typically develops slowly, often without causing any symptoms in the early stages. Once the symptoms appear, early diagnosis can help to treat the same. The nose cancer symptoms include the following.

  • Persistent blockage of the sinuses leading to difficulty in breathing. 
  • Loss of smell
  • A persistent headache 
  • Pain in the face or teeth
  • Nasal discharge
  • Nose or throat lump
  • Facial swelling
  • Watery eyes and changes in vision
  • Pain or pressure in one ear
  • Nose bleeding or pus in the nose

If you experience any of these symptoms, you must see a doctor to make a diagnosis.


What are the Types of Nose Cancer?

Nose or sinus cancer is different types per the type of cells involved. These include the following.

  1. Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This originates in the surface layers of the head or the neck.
  2. Mucosa Cell Carcinoma: This type originates in the mucous membrane.
  3. Adenoid Cystic Cell Carcinoma: This is a rare type in the minor salivary glands of the paranasal sinuses.
  4. Acinic Cell Carcinoma: This develops in salivary glands, especially in the parotid gland of the ear.

How is Nose Cancer Diagnosed?

To diagnose nose cancer, your doctor will likely perform a physical examination and ask about your medical history and symptoms. The doctor may also order imaging tests or biopsies to get further information about abnormalities. Some of the most common tests used to diagnose nose cancer include.

  • CT/PET Scan: This imaging test can help doctors view any tumour’s size, shape, and location. It can also determine if cancer has spread.
  • Blood Tests: Blood tests can help detect substances that may be released from the cancer cells into the bloodstream.
  • X-Rays: These tests can help doctors get an overview of affected areas and determine if cancer has spread to other body parts.
  • Biopsy: Doctors may take a tissue sample from the affected area and test it for cancer cells. 

What Are The Treatment Options For Nose Cancer?

A medical oncologist, a physician who focuses on treating cancer patients, will manage the course of treatment. Breathing issues or other side effects of the illness and its treatment may require specific assistance for patients with paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer. Hence, proper treatment is required by them. 


Some of the treatment options for nose cancer are given below.

  1. Surgery: It is the most common treatment for cancer, where cancer and some of the healthy tissue and bone are removed to prevent the spread of the same to other body parts.
  2. Radiation Therapy: It uses high-energy x-rays or other radiation to kill cancer cells.
  3. Chemotherapy: Here, drugs are used to stop the growth of cancer cells by killing them or putting a stop to their division.
  4. Targeted Therapy: In this, drugs target specific genetic mutations in cancer cells.
  5. Immunotherapy: Here, the treatment is such that the immune system is stimulated to recognise and attack the cancer cells.


Treating nose cancer effectively is a complex process involving many different treatment forms, including radiation therapy, chemotherapy, surgery, and targeted therapy. Each treatment has its own risks and side effects, and it is important to talk to your doctor about the best treatment options. All forms of treatment should be tailored to the individual, and it is important to be familiar with the options available. With the right combination of treatments, nose cancer can be effectively managed and treated.

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