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Paranasal sinus cancer

Kerstin M Stenson, MD, FACS
Daniel J Haraf, MD
Section Editors
Bruce E Brockstein, MD
David M Brizel, MD
Marvin P Fried, MD, FACS
Deputy Editor
Michael E Ross, MD


A range of malignancies can develop in the paranasal (maxillary, ethmoid, sphenoid, frontal) sinuses (figure 1). Adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the maxillary sinus and ethmoid sinus are the most common of these tumors.

The epidemiology, clinical presentation, diagnosis, and management of these tumors are discussed here. Tumors arising in the nasal cavity are discussed separately. (See "Cancer of the nasal vestibule" and "Tumors of the nasal cavity".)


Cancers arising in the paranasal sinuses are rare, constituting approximately 3 percent of head and neck malignancies [1]. The majority of these tumors arise in the maxillary sinuses, and most of the remainder start in the ethmoid sinuses. Cancers of the sphenoid and frontal sinuses are extremely rare. Paranasal sinus cancers are more frequent in males than in females [1].

Factors associated with paranasal sinus cancers include [1,2]:

Occupational exposures – Including leather, textile, wood dust, and formaldehyde.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Oct 04, 2017.
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