Sinus tumors may develop in any of the four sinus cavities as a result of abnormal cell growth. While the specific cause of sinus tumors is unknown, such tumors tend to develop in patients with chronic sinusitis or those who have been exposed to certain irritants in the home or at the workplace.
Most tumors of the sinuses are benign, but may result in troubling symptoms such as nasal obstruction, facial pain, visual difficulties, sleep apnea, snoring and chronic sinus infections. Sinus tumors may be diagnosed through endoscopic examination through the nose, or through imaging techniques such as X-rays, CT scans or MRI scans.
When small benign tumors are present, particularly if they are not interfering with the patient's quality of life, they may only necessitate ongoing observation by the physician. In a certain percentage of cases, however, sinus tumors turn out to be malignant. Diagnosis of the malignancy of tumors is confirmed through a tissue biopsy. Risk factors for cancerous sinus tumors include smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke, sawdust or formaldehyde, and a family history of cancer.
Cancerous tumors that develop in the sinus cavities are usually squamous cell carcinomas, which tend to be slow-growing and do not usually metastasize. Even so, these tumors require prompt and thorough treatment. Treatment of sinus tumors depends on the type, size and stage of the lesion, but often involves surgical resection at the site, which can be performed using endoscopic, ablation or open surgical techniques. Surgery may be combined with chemotherapy or radiation therapy for treatment of cancerous sinus tumors.