Symptoms of nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer

Last medical review:

Cancer in the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses usually doesn't cause any signs or symptoms in its early stages. This is because the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses are large spaces that allow a tumour to grow. Signs and symptoms often appear as the tumour grows into surrounding tissues. Because nasal and paranasal sinus cancer is not very common, other health conditions, such as a deviated septum or allergies, can cause the same symptoms as nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer.

The most common symptom of nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer is a stuffy, blocked or runny nose. It usually happens on one side of the nose and lasts for a long time even though you don't have a cold or allergies. These symptoms may gradually get worse. Other signs and symptoms of nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer may include:

  • nosebleeds
  • headache
  • sinus pain
  • pain above or below the eyes
  • a lump or growth on the face, on the roof of the mouth or inside the nose
  • watery eyes causing tears to run down the cheek
  • numbness, pain or swelling of the face
  • loose or numb upper teeth or changes in how dentures fit
  • bulging of one eye
  • loss or change in vision (for example, double vision)
  • pain or pressure in one of the ears
  • hearing loss
  • loss of sense of smell
  • swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • trouble opening the mouth (called trismus)

Expert review and references

  • Shamir Chandarana, MD, MSc, FRCSC
  • Aaron Hansen, BSc, MBBS, FRACP
  • Michael P Hier, MDCM, FRCSC
  • Saul Frenkiel, MDCM, FRCS(C)
  • American Cancer Society . Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging . 2021 : https://www.cancer.org/.
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) . Cancer.net: Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cancer: Symptoms and Signs . 2020 : https://www.cancer.net/.
  • Mendenhall WM, Dziegielewski PT, Pfister DG. Cancer of the head and neck. DeVita VT Jr., Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg's Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer; 2019: 45:542–598.
  • PDQ® Adult Treatment Editorial Board . Paranasal Sinus and Nasal Cavity Cancer Treatment (PDQ®) – Patient Version . Bethesda, MD : National Cancer Institute ; 2019 : https://www.cancer.gov/.