Nasal cavity, paranasal sinuses, nasopharynx

Sinonasal carcinoma

Sinonasal carcinoma-general

Last author update: 1 September 2013
Last staff update: 17 May 2023 (update in progress)

Copyright: 2004-2023,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Sinonasal carcinoma[TIAB]

Rifat Mannan, M.B.B.S., M.D.
Songyang Yuan, M.D., Ph.D.
Page views in 2022: 5,089
Page views in 2023 to date: 2,392
Cite this page: Mannan, A.A.S.R. Sinonasal carcinoma-general. website. Accessed May 29th, 2023.
Definition / general
  • Rare and heterogenous malignancy of sinonasal tract
  • Usually maxillary sinus, 20% in ethmoid sinuses
  • < 1% originate in frontal and sphenoid sinuses
Clinical features
  • Usually nonspecific, often mimics benign diseases
  • Nasal obstruction, rhinorrhea, headache, facial pressure, hyposmia
  • 9 - 12% of patients with sinonasal malignancies are asymptomatic (Ear Nose Throat J 2001;80:272) - delayed diagnosis is common
  • 75% of paranasal sinus tumors are stage T3 or T4 at diagnosis (Otolaryngol Clin North Am 2004;37:473)
  • Low threshold for radiologic investigation is important due to nonspecific nature of symptoms
  • CT / MRI helpful in delineating nature / extent of disease
  • Biopsy is useful for histologic confirmation
Prognostic factors
  • Tumor stage is most important prognostic variable
  • Bony destruction and invasion of adjacent head and neck structures are associated with poor prognosis
  • Cranial nerve involvement portends poor outcome
  • Most Stage T1 or T2 maxillary sinus carcinomas are treated by surgery alone, with adequate resection margins
  • T3 and T4 lesions are treated by combination therapy with surgery and radiation
Microscopic (histologic) description
  • 75 - 90% are squamous cell carcinoma (Head Neck 2002;24:821)
  • Other subtypes include sinonasal adenocarcinoma (intestinal and nonintestinal subtypes), adenoid cystic carcinoma, sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma
Microscopic (histologic) images

Contributed by Eman Abdelzaher, M.D., Ph.D.

Sinonasal adenoid cystic carcinoma

Back to top
Image 01 Image 02