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Sinus cancer treatments

Because sinus cancer and its treatments may affect everyday functions, like breathing and eating, doctors generally take into consideration a patient’s quality of life when recommending a treatment plan. The three main treatment options for sinus cancer are chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery, although reconstructive surgery may also be an option for certain patients.


Chemotherapy is typically used in conjunction with radiation to treat sinus cancer.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is often used in conjunction with surgery. Patients may undergo radiation treatment before or after the surgical procedure. Radiation may also be used in conjunction with chemotherapy.

Some types of radiation are designed to deliver stronger treatment doses while causing less damage to healthy tissue around the tumor. This may lead to fewer side effects.

Some radiation therapies commonly used to treat sinus cancer include:

CyberKnife®: A tumor in the sinuses is often difficult to reach with standard radiation. CyberKnife software allows for targeted radiation in concentrated doses. This may reduce damage to the surrounding healthy tissues and delicate areas, such as the eyes. Because CyberKnife treatment delivers higher doses of radiation than traditional radiation, the course of treatment may be shorter, and include fewer radiotherapy sessions.

Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT): When compared to standard radiotherapy, IMRT enables radiation oncologists to deliver stronger doses of radiation, with less damage to the areas surrounding sinus tumors. The machine revolves around the patient to deliver targeted, 3D therapy, and adjusts radiation intensity to reach cancerous regions, reducing the impact on healthy tissue.


Surgery may be performed on early- and advanced-stage sinus cancers. Early-stage sinus cancers may be treated with local excisions or minimally invasive endoscopic surgery. More advanced sinus cancers may require open surgeries, such as a full or partial maxillectomy, or removal of the eye. Reconstruction or plastic surgeries may follow procedures that remove a significant amount of tissues in certain areas.

Surgical procedures to treat sinus cancer may involve:

Excision: Surgeons may remove tumors and some local tissue during an excision. This procedure is typically performed on early-stage cancers.

Endoscopic sinus surgery: This minimally invasive procedure may be used on early-stage sinus cancer patients. A thin tube, or endoscope, is inserted into an incision in the sinus or nasal cavity to remove tumors.

Maxillectomy: This operation removes all or part (partial maxillectomy) of the hard palate, the front of the roof of the mouth. A special denture can be created to fill the hole formed by this surgery. Your doctor will likely refer you to a prosthodontist, a specialized dentist, who can make a prosthetic tailored to your mouth.

Microvascular reconstruction: Microvascular reconstruction surgery uses tissues from other parts of the body, such as a rib graft or ear cartilage, to rebuild the upper jaw or other areas impacted by tissue removal following a maxillectomy. Surgeons use a microscope to connect blood vessels from the free flap in the neck to keep the recently transplanted tissue alive and healthy.

Free flaps: Using microvascular surgery, in which small blood vessels are sewn together under a microscope, reconstructing the sinuses may be possible by using tissue and muscle from other areas of the body, such as the intestines, arm, leg or abdomen.

Next topic: What are the top questions about sinus cancer?

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