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

About surgery for nasal and sinus cancer

Men and women discussing nasal and sinus cancer

This page is about surgery for nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer. You can find the following information

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

About surgery for nasal and sinus cancer

Depending on the type of operation you have and the site of your cancer, your surgery may change

  • The way you can chew and swallow
  • Your sense of smell
  • How you see
  • How you hear
  • How you breathe (temporarily)

These changes may happen because your face and neck is swollen and sore after surgery. These temporary changes will disappear once you start to heal. Swelling may temporarily change how you look. But you may also have permanent changes in what you can do and the way you look. Your surgery may mean you need to have a false part called a prosthesis made. This is to replace the part of your face that has been removed. Some types of surgery can temporarily affect how you breathe and you may need to have a temporary breathing stoma. This is a hole in your neck, made so that you can breathe. You may hear this called a tracheostomy.

Having lymph nodes removed

Cancers of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses sometimes spread to the lymph nodes in the neck. If there is cancer in these nodes, your surgeon may remove them, or you may have radiotherapy to the area. An operation to clear the nodes on one or both sides of the neck is a called a neck dissection. You may have neck and shoulder stiffness or weakness in your arm after a neck dissection.

 

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

 

 

The doctors and surgeons involved

A team of specialist surgeons will probably treat you. This may include

  • An ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon, also called an otolaryngologist
  • A maxillofacial surgeon - they are specialists in the surgical treatment of conditions affecting the mouth, jaw, face and neck
  • A plastic surgeon - plastic surgery means the moulding of the surface and sometimes deep structures of the human body. This includes working on areas affected by surgery. Plastic surgery is common after surgery to remove a cancer of the head or neck.
  • A prosthodontist - a dentist trained to make replacements for missing teeth or any other structure of the mouth. This is usually to improve your appearance, comfort or health.

Because these types of cancers can spread to the eyes and inside the skull you may also be treated by

  • An eye doctor (ophthalmologist) and
  • A surgeon who specialises in surgery to the brain and nervous system (neurosurgeon)
 

Side effects of surgery

Depending on the type of operation you have and the site of your cancer, your surgery may change

And it may also cause

These changes may happen because your face and neck is swollen and sore after surgery. These temporary changes will disappear once you start to heal. Swelling may also change how you look and of course, this will also get better once swelling goes down. But you may also have permanent changes in what you can do and changes in the way you look. Your surgery may mean you need to have a false part called a prosthesis made. This is to replace the part of your face that has been removed.

Some types of surgery can temporarily affect how you breathe. For example reconstruction with a flap (a flap repair) may mean that you need to have a temporary breathing stoma. This is a hole in your neck, made so that you can breathe. You may also hear this called a tracheostomy. You will need it until the flap repair has healed and you can breathe normally again through your nose and mouth. There is more about breathing stomas in the living with nasal and paranasal sinus cancer section.

Unfortunately nasal and paranasal cancers are often diagnosed when they are quite advanced. By then the cancer is likely to involve the tissues surrounding the eyeball (orbit), or even the eye itself. If this is the case, surgery can mean removing your eye or orbit for the best chance of cure. There is information about this operation in the surgery for eye cancer section.

Your surgeon will always try to avoid changing your appearance, and to keep your breathing, speech, sight, chewing and swallowing as normal as possible. But sometimes this is not possible, and you will have changes to deal with. This can be very hard to come to terms with at first and can take some time to get used to.

There is information on living with nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer in this section.

 

Checking for lymph node spread

Lymph nodes are also called lymph glands. They are all over your body, connected to each other by thin tubes called lymph vessels. There is more information about the lymph nodes and what they do in the about cancer section. The lymph nodes are generally a common site of cancer spread. Even if there is no obvious sign of cancer in the nodes, there can be a chance that some cancer cells have spread to the nearest lymph nodes.

Cancers of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses sometimes spread to the lymph nodes in the neck. But this is uncommon. About 15 out of every 100 people with nasal and paranasal sinus cancer (15%) have spread to their lymph nodes. Your doctor may use a fine needle aspiration to find out if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the neck.

If there is cancer in these nodes, your surgeon may remove them. Or you may have radiotherapy to the area. If you don't have them treated, the cancer cells will continue to grow. An operation to clear the nodes on one or both sides of the neck is a called a neck dissection.

 

Neck dissection

If you need surgery to remove lymph nodes, your surgeon may recommend an operation called a neck dissection. There are different types of neck dissections including

  • Partial or selective neck dissection
  • Modified radical neck dissection and
  • Radical neck dissection

There is more detailed information about these types of neck dissection in this section.

Rate this page:
Submit rating
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: 5 July 2014