Sinus and Nasal Cavity Cancer

Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center

Appointment New Patient Appointment or 214-645-8300

UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Comprehensive Skull Base Program provides exceptional treatment for rare and complex skull base disorders such as sinus and nasal cavity cancer, combining a multidisciplinary approach with the latest techniques and technology.

Patients with sinus and nasal cavity cancer have access to a world-class neurological surgery center, a state-of-the-art neuro intensive care unit, and coordinated cancer care at the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center.

As the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in North Texas, we deliver the best cancer care available today and push to discover new treatments. NCI designation means we offer patients the ability to participate in the broadest possible range of clinical trials, with access to potential therapies not available at other facilities. 

Compassionate, Comprehensive Care

Tumors that grow in the nasal and sinus cavity are rare and can be either benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). The most common malignant nasal and sinus tumors are squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. These cancers are of special concern because of their close location to the eyes and brain. 

Specialists at UT Southwestern are experts in applying the latest in image guidance and microsurgical techniques to treat sinus and nasal cavity cancers while preserving quality of life for each patient. Our integrated team includes surgeons, radiation and medical oncologists, oral and reconstructive surgeons, physical and occupational therapists, and speech pathologists. We collaborate closely on each case, ensuring that patients benefit from the combined knowledge of all specialties.

Symptoms of Sinus and Nasal Cavity Cancer

Early symptoms are often nonspecific and can be confused with allergies or a sinus infection. As tumors grow, they can cause more pronounced symptoms, such as:

  • Blocked nasal passageway that does not clear
  • Blurry or double vision, or swelling of the eyes
  • Decreased or loss of sense of smell
  • Frequent headaches or pain affecting the sinus region
  • Growth on the face, nose, or palate
  • Loosening, pain, or numbness of the teeth
  • Nosebleeds
  • Numbness in cheeks or other parts of the face
  • Problems with dentures
  • Pus draining from the nose


UT Southwestern physicians have a number of ways to diagnose these cancers. Tests include:

Sinus cancers are categorized into Stages I, II, III, and IV. In general, as the tumor grows larger and involves more areas of the sinuses, the tumor is designated at a higher (more advanced) stage.

Treatments for Sinus and Nasal Cavity Cancer

At UT Southwestern, our physicians participate in a multidisciplinary skull base tumor board that works closely together to optimize care for people with these difficult tumors. Some of the treatment options we offer include: 


This treatment is used in select cases of aggressive sinus cancers before or after surgery. It can also be used to treat recurrent cancer. 

Radiation Therapy

This treatment uses high-dose X-rays or other high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. Radiation is typically used after surgery to minimize the risk of cancer recurrence. 


Sinus and nasal cavity tumors traditionally had to be removed through an incision on the face and the removal of the forehead bone flap, a procedure known as a craniotomy. The development of minimally invasive endoscopic resection now makes it possible to remove the tumor directly through the nose. Endoscopic surgery decreases complications and leads to quicker recovery times. 

Tumors with extensive brain involvement might still require a craniotomy. 

Recovery depends on the location, type, and stage of the cancer, and the patient’s overall health. The five-year survival rates are 80 to 90 percent for small cancers that have not spread, and 10 to 20 percent for advanced cancers.

Research and Clinical Trials

Patients benefit from the leading research conducted at UT Southwestern, which often includes clinical trials offered at few other centers in the country. Our clinical trials help speed better treatment to patients.

Patient Information Sheet

For more detailed, technical information about nasal and sinus cavity cancer, please read our sinus and nasal cavity cancer patient information sheet (PDF).