Treatments for nasal vestibule cancer

Last medical review:

If you have nasal vestibule cancer, your healthcare team will create a treatment plan just for you. It will be based on your health and specific information about the cancer. Most tumours that develop in the nasal vestibule are squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) of the skin and are treated like non-melanoma skin cancer.

You may be offered one or a combination of the following treatments for nasal vestibule cancer.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is a main treatment for nasal vestibule cancer. External beam radiation therapy, brachytherapy or a combination of both may treat tumours in the nasal vestibule.

Radiation therapy may be used:

  • instead of surgery to treat tumours when surgery could change how the face looks
  • after surgery if cancer cells are in the tissue around the tumour that was removed (called a positive surgical margin)
  • after surgery if cancer cells are around or near a nerve
  • to treat cancer that has come back (recurred) after surgery

Radiation therapy may also be given with chemotherapy (called chemoradiation). The chemotherapy drug most often used is cisplatin.


You may be offered surgery for very small tumours in the nasal vestibule. This is an option if the surgery won't change how the face looks or won't mean that you need to have reconstruction.

Surgery may also be given either before or after radiation therapy for large tumours of the nasal vestibule.

If radiation therapy or surgery was used as a first treatment and cancer comes back, more surgery may be done to try to remove the cancer. This is called salvage surgery.

The type of surgery depends on the size of the tumour.

A wide local excision removes the tumour as well as an area of healthy tissue around it (called a surgical margin).

A rhinectomy removes all or part of the nose. It is usually only done for larger, advanced tumours or tumours that have come back after radiation therapy. If you need to have a rhinectomy, you will have reconstructive surgery or be fitted with a prosthesis.

A neck dissection removes lymph nodes in the neck (called cervical lymph nodes). It is sometimes done to remove lymph nodes that have cancer. Learn more about neck dissection.


Sometimes chemotherapy is given during the same time period as radiation therapy (called chemoradiation) or after surgery. The drug most often used is cisplatin.

Chemotherapy may also be used alone to treat recurrent nasal vestibule cancer that doesn't respond to radiation therapy or surgery.

If you can’t have or don’t want cancer treatment

You may want to consider a type of care to make you feel better without treating the cancer itself. This may be because the cancer treatments don't work anymore, they're not likely to improve your condition or they may cause side effects that are hard to cope with. There may also be other reasons why you can't have or don't want cancer treatment.

Talk to your healthcare team. They can help you choose care and treatment for advanced cancer.

Clinical trials

Talk to your doctor about clinical trials open to people with nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer in Canada. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, find and treat cancer.

Find out more about clinical trials.

Expert review and references

  • Shamir Chandarana, MD, MSc, FRCSC
  • Aaron Hansen, BSc, MBBS, FRACP
  • Michael P Hier, MDCM, FRCSC
  • Saul Frenkiel, MDCM, FRCS(C)
  • George Shenouda, PhD, MBBCh
  • 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.
  • National Comprehensive Cancer Network . NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Head and Neck Cancers (Version 3.2021) . 2021 .
  • PDQ® Adult Treatment Editorial Board . Paranasal sinus and Nasal Cavity Cancer Treatment (PDQ®) – Health Professional Version . Bethesda, MD : National Cancer Institute ; 2019 :
  • Princess Margaret Cancer Centre . Princess Margaret Cancer Centre Clinical Practice Guidelines - Head and Neck, Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus . 2015 :