Supportive care for nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer

Supportive care helps people meet the physical, practical, emotional and spiritual challenges of nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer. It is an important part of cancer care. There are many programs and services available to help meet the needs and improve the quality of life of people living with cancer and their loved ones, especially after treatment has ended.

Recovering from nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer and adjusting to life after treatment is different for each person, depending on the stage of the cancer, the tissues removed during surgery, the type of treatment and many other factors. The end of cancer treatment may bring mixed emotions. Even though treatment has ended, there may be other issues to deal with, such as coping with long-term side effects. A person who has been treated for nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer may have the following concerns.

Rehabilitation after treatment

Rehabilitation is an important part of cancer care. The type of rehabilitation you have will depend on the stage of the cancer and the type of treatment you had.

Find out more about rehabilitation after nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer treatment.

Self-esteem and body image

How a person feels about themselves is called self-esteem. Body image is how a person sees their own body. Nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer and its treatments can affect a person's self-esteem and body image. Often this is because cancer or cancer treatments may result in body changes, such as:

  • scars
  • skin changes
  • changes to the shape and appearance of the face
  • having a prosthesis in the mouth, nose or eye
  • weight loss

Some of these changes can be temporary. Others will last for a long time or be permanent. Today's surgical techniques and reconstructive surgery help to lessen the changes to the appearance of the face after surgery.

Your face plays a big role in your self-esteem and body image because it is the most visible parts of your body. For many people, body image and how they think other people see them is closely linked to self-esteem. These issues may be a real concern for you and can cause considerable distress. You may feel angry or upset, afraid to go out or afraid others will reject you, even if the effects of treatment are not that noticeable.

Find out more about how to cope with body image and self-esteem worries.

Poor nutrition and weight loss

Both surgery and radiation therapy for nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer can make chewing and swallowing difficult. Other side effects of treatment may cause difficulty opening the jaw (called trismus), sore mouth (called mucositis), dry mouth (called xerostomia), taste changes, loss of teeth and loss of appetite. All of these problems can lead to poor nutrition and weight loss.

Your healthcare team can make suggestions on how you can eat well during and after treatment. A registered dietitian can often help you cope with eating-related side effects and help prevent weight loss.

In some cases, treatments may make it difficult for you to meet all of your nutrition needs with food or supplements by mouth. You may need to get nutrients through a feeding tube until you are able to eat normally. Find out more about eating well after treatment and tube feeding. You can also learn more about the following problems and how to manage them:

Mouth and dental care

Good mouth and dental care is very important after treatments for nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer. Radiation therapy and some types of surgery can put you at risk for infection in your mouth and cavities in your teeth. Radiation therapy to the head and neck can lead to a dry mouth if the salivary glands become damaged. Having a dry mouth increases the risk of developing cavities.

You will be told to use a solution of water, salt and baking soda (called a saline solution) to rinse out and clean the inside of your mouth. It is important to make sure the area of the surgery is cleaned well. Brush your teeth and floss as soon as possible after eating. You will also have regular fluoride treatments and frequent visits to your dentist to prevent tooth decay and loss of teeth.

Osteoradionecrosis

Osteoradionecrosis is bone death due to radiation. The bone dies because radiation damages its blood vessels. Radiation therapy for cancer in the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses can cause osteoradionecrosis in the jawbone.

Practise good mouth care before and after treatment, including having regular dental exams and fluoride treatments to prevent cavities.

Find out more about osteoradionecrosis.

Quitting smoking

Smoking tobacco can increase your chances of cancer coming back. It can also affect how well you heal and your rehabilitation after treatment. Learn more about how you can live smoke-free.

Questions to ask about supportive care

To make decisions that are right for you, ask your healthcare team questions about supportive care.

Expert review and references

  • American Cancer Society. Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinuses Cancer. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2009.
  • Living with nasal and sinus cancer . Cancer Research UK . CancerHelp UK . Cancer Research UK ; 2006 .
  • Costantino, P. D., Murphy, M. R. & Moche, J. A . Cancer of the nasal vestibule, nasal cavity, and paranasal sinus: surgical management. Harrison, L. B., Sessions, R. B., & Hong, W. K., (eds.). Head and Neck Cancer: A Multidisciplinary Approach. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2004: 21: pp. 455-479.
  • Helsper, J. T., Recabaren, J. A. & Dollinger, M . Head and neck. Dollinger, M., Rosenbaum, E., Tempero, M., & Mulvihill, S. Everyone's Guide to Cancer Therapy: How Cancer is Diagnosed, Treated and Managed Day to Day. 4th ed. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing; 2002: pp. 543-566.
  • National Cancer Institute. Oral Complications of Chemotherapy and Head/Neck Radiation (PDQ®): Health Professional Version. Bethesda: National Cancer Institute; 2009.
  • National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Oral Complications of Cancer Treatment: What the Dental Team Can Do. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health; 2008.
  • National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Oral Complications of Cancer Treatment: What the Oncology Team Can Do. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health; 2008.
  • Parsons, J. T., & Kies, M. S . Cancer of the nasal vestibule, nasal cavity, and paranasal sinus: radiation therapy and chemotherapy management. Harrison, L. B., Sessions, R. B., & Hong, W. K., (eds.). Head and Neck Cancer: A Multidisciplinary Approach. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2004: 22: pp. 480-528.

Rehabilitation after nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer treatment

Learn about rehabilitation after treatment for nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer.