If nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer spreads

Cancer cells can spread from the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses to other parts of the body. This spread is called metastasis.

Understanding how a type of cancer usually grows and spreads helps your healthcare team plan your treatment and future care. If nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancer spreads, it can spread to the following:

  • bones of the skull around the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses, including the upper jawbone (maxilla), ethmoid bone, sphenoid bone, eye socket (called the orbit), base of the skull, roof of the mouth (called the palate) and cheek bone

  • soft tissues of the nose and face

  • nerves near the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses

  • the nasopharynx

  • the skin of the cheek

  • an eye

  • brain

  • lymph nodes in the head and neck (called cervical lymph nodes)

  • lungs

  • liver

  • bone (like the spine)

It is uncommon for cancer of the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses to spread to distant sites in the body. It may happen when advanced tumours have spread to the lymph nodes. The chance of cancer spreading to distant sites increases with the number of lymph nodes that have cancer.

Expert review and references

  • Carrau RL. Malignant Tumors of the Nasal Cavity. WebMD LLC; 2011: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/846995-overview#showall.
  • Cancer of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinus: radiation therapy and chemotherapy management. Harrison LB, Sessions RB, & Kies MS. Head and Neck Cancer: A Multidisciplinary Approach. 4th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2014: 21: 560-587.
  • Mendenhall WM, Werning JW, Pfister DG . Cancer of the head and neck. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, & Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015: 38: 422-473.
  • Runbin P, Hansen JT. TNM Staging Atlas with Oncoanatomy. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012: http://www.lwwoncology.com.
  • Tabaee A, Persky MS . Cancer of the nasal vestibule, nasal cavity, paranasal sinuses, anterior skull base, and orbit: Surgical management. Harrison LB, Sessions RB, & Kies MS. Head and Neck Cancer: A Multidisciplinary Approach. 4th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2014: 20:525-559.