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Understanding a Sinus Tumor – Healthline

Sinus tumors develop in your nasal cavity and in the open spaces around your nose, which are called the paranasal sinus cavities. They’re the same areas where you often feel pain and pressure when you’re congested or have a sinus headache.
This type of tumor is rare. Less than one-half percent of all diagnosed cancers are cancerous sinus tumors, and not all sinus tumors are cancerous. However, treatment is usually needed because even benign, or noncancerous, tumors can damage your sinuses and nasal cavity.
The majority of sinus tumors develop in the maxillary sinus cavity. This is the sinus area below your cheeks and above your teeth.
Tumors can also develop in your nasal cavity. They can also develop in the sphenoid sinuses that are in the hollow spaces in the bones behind your nose, as well as in the ethmoid sinuses on either side of your nose between the eyes. Only rarely do tumors form behind your ethmoid sinuses or in your frontal sinuses located in the forehead.
The exact cause of the more severe malignant sinus tumors is often unknown, but there are a few proven risk factors. These include:
For benign sinus tumors, the symptoms may include:
A sinus tumor doesn’t always mean cancer.
There are multiple types of noncancerous tumors that form in your sinus. Not all of these tumors can spread to other parts of the body, but some can be destructive to the surrounding structures or can even change into something malignant over time.
Though not all of these tumors grow or spread, some can evolve into malignancies. Even if they remain benign, these tumors do need to be treated because they can cause damage to your nasal passages and sinuses, as well as damage to the eyes and base of the skull.
Other tumors that form in your sinuses are cancerous. Types of cancerous tumors that form in your sinuses include:
The signs and symptoms of a sinus tumor can resemble those of a cold, a sinus infection, or allergies when they first appear. Unlike cold or allergy symptoms, symptoms of a nasal tumor won’t be relieved with over-the-counter (OTC) products, and they won’t get better after a week or two.
Symptoms of a sinus tumor include:
It’s important to get treatment for any type of sinus tumor. At your appointment, a doctor will go over your medical history and you’ll have a physical exam of your head and neck. They’ll order tests to confirm the diagnosis and to see if the tumor is cancerous.
Tests might include:
The exact treatment for a sinus tumor depends on where it’s located and whether or not it’s cancerous.
In cases of benign sinus tumors, treatment for most people is complete removal. Nearly 100 percent of these cases are curable with an endoscopic endonasal approach. Visible skin excisions are often not necessary.
For those sinus tumors determined to be cancerous, nearly all treatment plans will likely include a surgical procedure. While many malignant tumors can be removed endonasally, some may require a combined external approach.
If the tumor is large or in an area where removal will be difficult, you might have radiation treatment first. Radiation treatments can shrink the tumor and make it easier to remove surgically.
Other treatments include:
Sinus tumors grow in the sinus cavities around your nose. Not all sinus tumors are cancerous, but it’s advised to speak with a medical professional to determine whether any sinus tumor requires treatment. The early symptoms of a sinus tumor can feel like a bad cold, allergies, or a sinus infection, but they won’t get better with rest and OTC medications. It’s best to see a medical professional as soon as possible if you’ve had these symptoms for a few weeks. Early detection can give you more treatment options and can lead to better outcomes.
Last medically reviewed on June 9, 2022
Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.
Current Version
Jun 9, 2022
Written By
S. Srakocic
Edited By
Mike Hoskins
Medically Reviewed By
Nicole Aaronson, MD, MBA, CPE, FACS, FAAP
Copy Edited By
Christina Baswell
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