Symptoms & Risk Factors

The signs and symptoms of sinus cancer, nasal cancer, and skull-base tumors often resemble the signs and symptoms of sinusitis and allergic rhinitis. These include:

  • Nasal discharge or runny nose
  • Nasal obstruction
  • Difficulty breathing through your nose
  • A feeling of pressure in the mid-face
  • Nosebleeds

Since these symptoms are indicative of numerous less serious conditions, a diagnosis of sinus cancer, nasal cancer, or skull-base cancer may come late, when tumors are already at an advanced stage.

Symptoms specific to sinus cancer or nasal cancer include:

  • Loosening and numbness of the upper teeth
  • Bulging eye
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Tearing, and for very advanced tumors, loss of vision

Tumors in the nasal cavity are often accompanied by bleeding, an inability to breathe through the nose, and loss of smell. Extremely advanced tumors can cause hearing loss, headaches, ear pain, the inability to open your mouth, and even changes to your mental state.

Risk factors

Unlike other cancers of the head and neck, sinus cancer, nasal cancer, and skull-base cancer have no predominant risk factors. Tobacco use, alcohol use, sun exposure, and exposure to ionizing radiation do not appear linked in any way to these types of cancer.

Some rare industrial exposures may account for the development of sinus, nasal and skull-base tumors. One such exposure affects individuals working in the wood industry, who may be exposed to hard and soft wood dust. In addition, clustering of these cancers in individuals who mine such minerals as cadmium, nickel, and other rare minerals have also been reported.

As a consequence of industrial exposure, these malignancies appear to occur more commonly in males than females. There does not appear to be any other racial, ethnic, or geographic propensity for these cancers to develop.