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Nasal cavity cancer number stages

The different number stages of nasal cavity cancer and the treatment you might have.

What staging is

The stage of a cancer means how big it is and whether it has spread. It is important because the stage often decides the treatment. The tests and scans you have to diagnose cancer give some information about the stage. But your doctor may not be able to tell you the exact stage until you have surgery.

Number stages

There are 5 number stages of nasal cavity cancer.

Stage 0 or carcinoma in situ (CIS)

If you have CIS or stage 0 cancer, you have a very early stage cancer. Some doctors prefer to call this pre cancer because there are cancer cells only in the skin like covering of your nasal cavity. This means the cancer cells are contained there and cannot spread.

As the cells cannot spread, this is not yet a true cancer. If the pre cancer is not treated, there is a high chance of this condition going on to develop into an invasive cancer.

Stage 1

If you have stage 1 cancer of the nasal cavity, it means the cancer has not spread. It may have grown into the bones surrounding the nasal cavity.

The cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body.

Stage 2

If you have stage 2 cancer of the nasal cavity, it means the cancer is in more than one part of the nasal cavity, or has spread to surrounding tissues.

The cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body.

Stage 3

Having stage 3 cancer of the nasal cavity can mean one of 2 things:

  • the cancer has begun to grow into the bones of the eye socket, the floor of the maxillary sinus (hard palate), or both. It has not spread to the lymph nodes or other organs
  • the tumour is any size, except T4, and has spread to one lymph node on the same side of the neck, which is no more than 3cm across

Stage 4

This means the cancer is advanced. All T4 tumours are considered to be stage 4 even if they have not spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body. Stage 4 could mean one of 3 things:

  • the tumour has grown into other nearby structures such as the eye, skull, sphenoid or frontal sinuses, or skin of the nose or cheek
  • the cancer is any size and has spread to more than one lymph node bigger than 3cm on the same side of the neck, or has spread to more than one lymph node of any size on one or both sides of the neck
  • the cancer has spread to other parts of the body such as the lungs, liver or brain

Treatment by stage

Your treatment will depend on where the tumour is and its stage. If the cancer is in the tissue separating the two sides of the nose (your nasal septum) you will most likely have surgery.

For cancers elsewhere in the nasal cavity, radiotherapy works just as well as surgery. It is often the preferred treatment because it does not change the appearance of the nose as much.

If the cancer is very advanced, your doctor may suggest both treatments, with radiotherapy before or after surgery.

Last reviewed: 
23 Nov 2017
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