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Cancer of the nasal vestibule

Anamaria R Yeung, MD
Robert J Amdur, MD
John W Werning, MD, DMD, FACS
Section Editors
Bruce E Brockstein, MD
Marshall R Posner, MD
David M Brizel, MD
Deputy Editor
Michael E Ross, MD


Cancers of the nasal vestibule are rare and account for less than 1 percent of all tumors of the head and neck [1]. The nasal vestibule is separated anatomically from the nasal cavity by the limen nasi. Cancers originating from the nasal vestibule behave like squamous cell cancers of skin and have different clinical behavior compared with tumors arising in the nasal cavity. Thus, these tumors should be considered separately for the purposes of diagnosis and treatment.

The presentation and treatment of cancers of the nasal vestibule are discussed here. Cancers arising in the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses are discussed separately. (See "Tumors of the nasal cavity" and "Paranasal sinus cancer".)


Anatomy and pathology — The nasal vestibule is a pear-shaped cavity that functions as the entrance to the nasal cavity. Its borders are the nasal septum and columella medially, the lower lateral (alar) cartilage laterally, and the pre-maxilla inferiorly. The vestibule terminates posteriorly at the limen nasi, the junction of the lower and upper lateral cartilages, as well as the transition from skin to mucosa (figure 1 and figure 2). The vestibule is lined by skin bearing hair follicles, sebaceous glands, and sweat glands.

Tumors arising in the nasal vestibule typically are squamous cell carcinomas that have a natural history similar to that of squamous cell skin cancer. Other types of skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma and melanoma can also arise in the nasal vestibule. (See "Treatment and prognosis of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma".)

Epidemiology and risk factors — The average age of patients presenting with nasal vestibule cancer is between 60 and 70 years [2,3]. In most series, nasal vestibule cancer is more common in men, who constitute 55 to 70 percent of cases. There appears to be an increased risk associated with smoking tobacco [3,4].


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Literature review current through: Dec 2016. | This topic last updated: Mon Feb 01 00:00:00 GMT+00:00 2016.
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