About chemotherapy for nasal and sinus cancer

Whether you have chemotherapy for nasal and paranasal sinus cancer depends on the type and stage of your cancer.

What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy uses anti cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. The drugs circulate throughout the body in the bloodstream.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy (chemoradiotherapy)

You might have chemotherapy at the same time as radiotherapy for some types of nasal and paranasal sinus cancers. This is also called chemoradiotherapy.

Your doctor might suggest chemoradiotherapy if you are not fit enough to have surgery. Or you might have it because your cancer has spread to other parts of your body. You might also have it after surgery to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.

Chemoradiotherapy can be a tough treatment to get through. The side effects are the same as for chemotherapy and radiotherapy on their own. But some are likely to be more severe. You will have some tests to make sure you are fit enough for it. If not, you might still be able to have radiotherapy on its own.

Chemotherapy to shrink a large cancer

Your doctor might suggest chemotherapy before surgery. This will be if your cancer hasn't spread to other organs, but is too big to be operated on.
It is not a commonly used treatment and is called neo adjuvant chemotherapy.

The aim is to shrink your cancer with chemotherapy before your surgery or before radiotherapy. This makes it easier to remove or means that you can have a smaller operation.

You might have this treatment to avoid needing to remove nearby organs, such as the eye. This type of treatment is still being tested in clinical trials.

Chemotherapy to control a cancer that has come back

You might have chemotherapy on its own if your cancer is advanced. Or you might have it if your cancer has come back after treatment with surgery or radiotherapy.

This can help to relieve your symptoms and may slow the growth of your cancer.

Dietary or herbal supplements and chemotherapy

Not enough is known about how some nutritional or herbal supplements might interact with chemotherapy. Some could be harmful.

It is very important to let your doctors know if you take any supplements and if an alternative or complementary therapy practitioner prescribes them for you.

Talk to your specialist about any other tablets or medicines you take while you are having your cancer treatment.

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