About radiotherapy for nasal and sinus cancer | Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK on Google+ Cancer Research UK on Facebook Cancer Research UK on Twitter

About radiotherapy for nasal and sinus cancer

Men and women discussing nasal and sinus cancer

This page has information on radiotherapy for nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers. You can find the following

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

About radiotherapy for nasal and sinus cancer

Radiotherapy uses high energy rays to kill cancer cells. Radiotherapy may be the first choice of treatment for some types of nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers. It can cure many people with early stage cancers. 

Whether this type of treatment is suitable for you will depend on the type of cancer you have, exactly where it is, its size and how far it has grown into the surrounding tissues.

Radiotherapy with chemotherapy

You may have radiotherapy and chemotherapy together for some types of nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers.

Radiotherapy after surgery

Radiotherapy after surgery helps to stop your cancer from coming back. You may have it because the tumour was difficult to remove and there may be cancer cells left behind. Other reasons could be that the tumour has spread locally into nearby structures, or cancer cells were found in your lymph nodes.

Radiotherapy to relieve symptoms

You may hear this being called palliative radiotherapy. It relieves symptoms, such as pain, by shrinking the cancer. The cancer may grow back, but it could take a while to do so. 

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the treating nasal cancer section.

 

 

What radiotherapy is

Radiotherapy uses high energy rays to kill cancer cells. You can't feel the treatment while you are having it. It is like having an X-ray. But a course of radiotherapy that lasts a few weeks does usually have some side effects. In particular, your mouth can get very sore.

 

Treating nasal and sinus cancers with radiotherapy

For nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers, you may have

  • Radiotherapy on its own
  • Radiotherapy with chemotherapy
  • Radiotherapy after surgery
  • Radiotherapy to relieve symptoms

Radiotherapy on its own

Radiotherapy may be the first choice of treatment for some types of nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers. It can cure many people with early stage cancers. Whether this type of treatment is suitable for you will depend on

  • Which type of cancer you have
  • The size of the cancer
  • How far it has grown into the surrounding tissues
  • Exactly where the cancer is

Radiotherapy with chemotherapy

You may have radiotherapy and chemotherapy together (chemoradiotherapy) for some types of nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers.

Radiotherapy after surgery

Radiotherapy after surgery is called adjuvant therapy. It helps to stop your cancer from coming back. Doctors use radiotherapy after surgery for a number of different reasons. You may have it because

  • The tumour was difficult to remove
  • Your surgeon thinks there may be cancer cells left behind
  • The tumour had spread locally into nearby structures
  • Cancer cells were found in your lymph nodes

You usually have treatment every day, Monday to Friday, for between 4 and 7 weeks. So you have up to 35 separate treatments, called fractions. Breaking the treatment down into a series of smaller treatments helps to keep side effects under control. If you add up all the radiation doses you have in the fractions, the total will be the complete dose of radiation your specialist has prescribed for you.

Radiotherapy to relieve symptoms

Radiotherapy can relieve symptoms in advanced nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers. You may hear this called palliative radiotherapy. 

Your cancer may be causing difficulty in swallowing or breathing. Some nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers are close to the brain, so they can grow and put pressure on the brain. Radiotherapy can help to relieve this pressure. 

The treatment relieves symptoms by shrinking the cancer. The cancer may grow back, but it could take a while to do so. No one can say how long, but the radiotherapy could relieve your symptoms for some time. 

Radiotherapy can also help to relieve pain. To control symptoms, you are most likely to have a short course of treatment over a few days.

 

For more information

Find out about

External radiotherapy

Side effects of nasal and sinus cancer

Chemotherapy 

For general information and support 

Contact the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040 (Open 9am - 5pm, Monday to Friday)

Share experiences on our online forum with Cancer Chat

Rate this page:
Submit rating

 

Rated 5 out of 5 based on 1 votes
Rate this page
Rate this page for no comments box
Please enter feedback to continue submitting
Send feedback
Question about cancer? Contact our information nurse team

No Error

Updated: 23 July 2014