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Statistics and outlook for nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer

Men and women discussing nasal and sinus cancer

This page is about statistics and what they can tell us about the outlook for people with nasal and paranasal sinus cancer. There is information on

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Statistics and outlook for nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer

Outlook means your chances of getting better. Your doctor may call this your prognosis. With nasal and paranasal sinus cancer, the likely outcome depends on how advanced the cancer is when it is diagnosed (the stage). The outlook also depends on which parts of the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses are involved.

The statistics we use are taken from a variety of sources, including the opinions and experience of the experts who check every section of Cancer Research UK's patient information. They are intended as a general guide only. For the more complete picture in your case, you’d have to speak to your own specialist.

We include statistics because people ask for them, but not everyone wishes to read this type of information. Remember you can skip this page if you don't want to read it, you can always come back to it. 

How reliable are cancer statistics?

No statistics can tell you what will happen to you. Your cancer is unique. The same type of cancer can grow at different rates in different people. The statistics cannot tell you about the different treatments people may have had, or how that treatment may have affected their prognosis. There are many individual factors that will affect your treatment and your outlook.

 

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

 

 

What you need to know about the information on this page

This page has quite detailed information about the survival rates of different stages of nasal and paranasal sinus cancer. We have included it because many people ask us for this kind of information. But not everyone who is diagnosed with a cancer wants to read it. If you are not sure whether you want to know at the moment or not, then perhaps you might like to skip this page for now. You can always come back to it if you change your mind and feel you would like to know more.

 

Cancer statistics in general

There is a section explaining more about the different types of cancer statistics in the CancerHelp UK section on cancer statistics. Unless you are very familiar with medical statistics, you may find it helpful to read this before you read the information below.

Remember - statistics are averages based on large numbers of people. They cannot predict exactly what your outcome will be. No two patients are exactly alike and response to treatment also varies from one person to another.

You should feel free to ask your doctor about your prognosis, but not even your doctor can tell you what will definitely happen. You may hear your doctor use the term ‘5 year survival’. This does not mean you will only live 5 years. It relates to the number of people in research who are alive 5 years after diagnosis with nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancer.

Doctors follow what happens to people for 5 years after treatment in any research study. This is because most cancers, if they are going to come back, will do so within 5 years. If your nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancer has not come back within that time, there is only a small chance that it will do so after 5 years.

Doctors who treat cancer can be reluctant to use the word 'cure'. They do not like to say these people are cured because there is that small chance that it could come back. So they use the term ‘5 year survival’ instead.

 

Outlook and cancer stage

As with many other types of cancer, the outcome depends on how advanced your cancer is when it is diagnosed. In other words, the stage of your cancer. The outlook also depends on which parts of the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses are involved.

The statistics below are general and combine all stages of disease, for all types of nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers. We have not listed 5 year survival rates for specific kinds of nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers. For information tailored to the type and stage of your cancer, you will have to talk to your own specialist.

 

How common these cancers are

Nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers are rare. In the UK there are around 400 nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers diagnosed each year. They are much more common in men than women. And they occur more often in countries such as Japan and South Africa than in the UK.

Of all those diagnosed with nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancers,

  • Between 30 and 40 out of every 100 people (30 to 40%) will have it in their maxillary sinuses
  • Between 40 and 50 out of every 100 people (40 to 50%) will develop it in their nasal cavity
  • Between 10 and 15 out of every 100 people (10 to 15%) will have the cancer in their ethmoid sinuses

The rest are in the frontal and sphenoid sinuses, which are very rare.

It is sometimes difficult for doctors to tell precisely where the cancer started because these cavities and sinuses are so closely connected.

 

Overall statistics for nasal cavity and sinus cancers

Of all the people diagnosed with nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer, between 35 and 60 out of every 100 (35 to 60%) will live for at least 5 years after they are diagnosed. But this is an overall statistic, and the outlook for each person will depend very much on where the cancer is, the type, how far it has spread, and how fast it is growing. Generally, cancer of the nasal cavity has a better outcome than paranasal sinus cancer.

If the cancer is caught very early, the outlook is very good. Nearly everyone diagnosed with a very early stage cancer of the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses will live for at least 5 years after diagnosis. But sadly, for very advanced stage tumours the statistics are not so good. Only between 2 and 3 out of every 10 people (20 to 30%) diagnosed with advanced stage cancers will live for more than 5 years after their diagnosis.

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Updated: 27 November 2012