Cancer is a very serious disease which can strike virtually any part of the body. Some parts like the sinuses have a fairly rare occurrence of cancer. However for some people at greater risk this can certainly occur. Like virtually every kind of cancer, early detection and treatment is very important to have the best chance of eliminating the cancer and helping the patient to achieve a good quality of life for many years to come. The difficulty with sinus cancer is that early symptoms are often difficult to detect. But let’s review many of the important sinus cancer symptoms and encourage you to keep a watchful eye on any changes which could possibly signal the presence of this type of cancer.
Sinus cancer is categorized into four stages with the first stage as the initial stage and the 4th stage as the final and most serious form of the disease. Sinus cancer begins when cancer cells form in the tissue which lines the sinus membranes. Sinus cancer can also result if there is a blockage of the sinus cavity due to a bacterial sinus infection. The disease tends to affect more women than men and in most cases it affects these women who are between the ages of 45 to 85 years of age.
There are several types of sinus cancer. Maxillary sinusitis cancer tends to form in the cheek bone area under the eyes; ethmoid sinus cancer develops in the area between the nose and eyes; sphenoid sinus cancer affects the bottom of the skull; and frontal sinus cancer affects the area on the lower forehead.
There is little difference in the sinus cancer symptoms for the different kinds of sinus cancer. So it is important to note the following warning signs:
- Nose bleeding is a typical symptom since the cancer can develop bleeding sores or tumors which can bleed
- A persistent pain in the ears can occur
- Tooth pain is something to note
- A bloody cough along with mucous discharge is a warning sign
- If you experience a decrease in your sense of smell, seek medical attention
- Sinus congestion which does not improve may indicate a bigger problem than just a stuffy nose
- Constant pain in and around the nose may occur
- Bulging nose or cheeks may also be a warning sign
- A general numbness or pain in the cheeks may be present
- And a lump in the neck may indicate that the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes
- Breathing problems may occur as the cancer develops
- Any degradation of speech generally indicates a larger problem which needs to be looked into immediately
If sinus cancer is suspected by your doctor, a number of tests may be performed to confirm a diagnosis. This type of cancer is most often detected with imaging tests like a CT scan, MRI, PET or X-ray.
Once a diagnosis has been made, the proper course of treatment depends a lot on the type of cancer, its stage and the overall health of the patient. In general if the cancer is diagnosed in the early stages, a combination of surgery and chemo or radiation therapy can be very effective and provide excellent long term prognosis. Unfortunately if the cancer has progressed to later stages, the emphasis of treatment is more focused on controlling the spread of the cancer rather than a cure. Its goal is to provide the patient with the best quality of life for as long as possible.