Skin cancer on nose: signs and symptoms, treatment of nasal cancer

Medically reviewed: 11, January 2024

Read Time:12 Minute

Skin cancer on nose: what is it?

Cancer of the nose, also known as nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancer, is a relatively rare form of cancer that affects the nasal passages and sinuses. While it only accounts for about 3% of all head and neck cancers, it can be a serious and potentially life-threatening condition if left untreated. Skin cancer on nose is a malignant neoplasm, which rare form of pathological tumor occurs predominantly in males after they have reached 40 years of age. In most cases, the cancer is localized in the maxillary sinuses.

Key takeaways

  • Skin cancer on nose, also known as nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancer, can be caused by various factors including exposure to certain chemicals, tobacco use, and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.
  • There are several types of nose cancer, such as squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, melanoma, lymphomas, and sarcomas, each having distinct characteristics and requiring specific treatment approaches.
  • Common symptoms include persistent nasal congestion, nosebleeds, facial pain or numbness, swollen lymph nodes, reduced sense of smell, and sometimes difficulty breathing through the nostrils.

Anatomy and Function of the Nose

To understand cancer on the nose, it’s important to first understand the anatomy and function of the nose. The nose is a complex organ that serves several important functions, including:

  1. Respiration: The nose is the primary entry point for air into the respiratory system. It warms, humidifies, and filters the air we breathe, helping to protect the lungs from harmful particles and microorganisms.
  2. Olfaction: The nose is responsible for our sense of smell. It contains specialized sensory cells that detect and interpret chemical signals from the environment, allowing us to experience a wide range of odors and fragrances.
  3. Secretion: The nose produces mucus, which helps to moisten the nasal cavity.

In this form of face cancer, metastasis to distant organs is quite rare. But a swelling of the nose can affect the bony structures and nearby healthy tissues. The treatment is carried out by an oncologist together with an otolaryngologist and specialists in oral and maxillofacial surgery.

What causes malignant cancer in the nose?

The exact causes of the development of a cancer in the nasal cavity are not known to medicine. But experts in this field identify a number of factors that can provoke its formation and growth:

  • long and continuous exposure to harmful chemical compounds;
  • smoking and substance abuse;
  • chronic inflammation of the nasal mucosa;
  • polyps in the nose;
  • sinusitis and rhinitis chronic form;
  • warts and moles in the nose;
  • persistent weakening of the body’s defenses;
  • alcoholism;
  • uncontrolled intake of antibiotics.

Benign tumors such as papillomas, skin growths, polyps and warts can affect the likelihood of developing a malignant tumor in the nasal cavity. Although initially they are benign in nature, under the influence of negative factors can be transformed into a cancerous tumor.

Chronic inflammation of the nasal mucosa can also become a trigger for the development of a malignant process. This occurs as a result of a change in the structure of mucosal cells. Employees of woodworking, milling and chemical enterprises, as well as the metallurgical industry have an increased risk of developing oncology.

Forms and stages of nasal cancer

The classification of nasal cancer is quite diverse and it is possible to determine exactly what kind of tumor in a particular patient is possible only after performing a cytological analysis. This study identifies the type of cells that make up the tumor.

There is the following classification of types of nasal cancer:

  • squamous cell carcinoma;
  • melanoma;
  • carcinoma;
  • adenocarcinoma;
  • poorly differentiated transitional cell carcinoma;
  • sarcoma.

Of all these types of squamous cell carcinoma is considered the most common, about 70% of diagnosed cases occur in it. Rarely carcinoma of the nose. The most aggressive and therefore the most dangerous type of cancer of the nose is sarcoma.

Depending on the location of the tumor of the nose is divided into 2 groups: tumors of the pyramid of the nose and the nasal cavity. The first are located directly on the nose or in the aisles. Tumors of the nasal cavity are formed inside the nose and sinuses. In turn, the latter are divided into: frontal, ethmoid, maxillary and main.

In its development, nasal cancer passes through 4 stages. This separation is necessary to determine the tactics of treatment and predict the outcome of the disease. The basis of this classification is the degree of germination of pathological tissue and damage to nearby organs. So, there are the following stages:

  1. Cancer cells are not transferred to the bone structure, there is no damage to the regional lymph nodes.
  2. The tumor affects the bony walls, but does not extend beyond the sinuses. Lymph nodes are not involved in the pathological process.
  3. The tumor destroys the nasal bones and grows into nearby cavities. The presence of metastases has been discovered within the lymph nodes.
    Germination of the tumor in the bone of the cheekbone, jaw and skin of the face.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of malignant tumor in the nose.

Symptoms and signs of a cancer of the nose

Nose cancer, like most other cancers, in the initial stage has an asymptomatic course and is detected by chance. Blurred symptoms are also characteristic of a malignant neoplasm that develops in the epithelial layer of the nasal mucosa. It often happens that the first signs are confused with a cold and the doctor prescribes a treatment that does not have the desired effect and after a while the patient is diagnosed with a progressive form of nasal cancer.

The earliest signs of the pathology in question may have the following manifestations:

  • constant nasal congestion for a long time against the background of complete health;
  • nasal discharge of pus or blood, often with a putrid odor;
  • the formation on the mucous membrane of the nose, on the inner surface of the wings painful ulcers, which do not heal for a long time, despite the use of antibacterial and anti-inflammatory drugs;
  • bleeding from the nose, which occurs at rest;
  • The inflammation is present in both the auditory canal, which is the passage leading to the middle ear.
  • constant feeling of congestion in the ears.

As the cancer cells grow on the mucous membrane, the symptoms of nasal cancer progress and become pronounced. After the malignant tumor has passed the initial stage of development, new symptoms appear. So, the pain inside the nose and sinuses joins the above described manifestations, which haunts the person constantly.

Its intensity is so pronounced that it requires anesthetic medication. In addition, aching or acute pain occurs in the area of ​​the roots of the teeth of the upper jaw. The patient complains of headaches resembling chronic migraine, constant heaviness is felt in the frontal region. The discharge of blood from the nose becomes more intense.

In the process of tumor growth possible deformation of the nose. It looks like a curvature to the side. On the surface of the skin of the nose at the site of tumor localization, elasticity is lost. There are also hearing disorders: hallucinations and extraneous tinnitus. If a swelling from the nose has sprouted into the chewing muscles or mandibular joint, then the person has difficulty opening the mouth.

When a neoplasm forms in the posterior external maxillary sinus, the chewing function is impaired. If the tumor is located in the frontal sinuses, then there is a sharp pain in the forehead, swelling of the eyelids develops, the eyes shift, the face is deformed.

Diagnosis of the cancer on the nose

Diagnosis is based on clinical manifestations and history taking, as well as on visual examination and instrumental methods of research. The doctor should find out if there was an impact of occupational hazards, whether bad habits are present and what chronic inflammatory diseases of the nasal cavity were present in the history.

Attention and external evidence are noteworthy:

  • unilateral displacement of the eyeballs and their protrusion;
  • deformity of half of the face;
  • changing the state of the eyelids;
  • restriction of movement of the lower jaw.

To detect a tumor inside the nose, the nasal passages and sinuses are examined with a magnifying device. And it is also necessary to carry out palpation of the cervical and ear lymph nodes. Detection of an increase in their size will indicate that the cancer may have metastasized.

If you suspect cancer of the sinuses, endoscopic examination is performed. Modern equipment makes it possible to study the nasal cavity without injury by displaying an image on a monitor and at the same time taking tissue samples for additional research. This procedure is called a biopsy. It is an important element in the diagnosis of malignant tumors.

With the help of pharyngoscopy, it is possible to identify secondary changes caused by the germination of the tumor in the paranasal sinuses and oral cavity. If cancer is suspected, an X-ray examination is performed. Take a picture of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses.

If there are signs of germination of the tumor of the paranasal sinuses in the skull, an x-ray of the skull is performed. Using computed tomography, the location of the tumor and its size is determined. And also this method allows you to assess how affected the surrounding tissue cancer.

Treatment of skin cancer on nose

Treatment of nasal cancer is carried out individually, taking into account the type of tumor, its location and size, as well as the extent of the pathological process. Combination therapy, which includes surgery, radio, and chemotherapy, is considered the most effective.

Surgery involves the removal of tumors and the excision of nearby tissues. But it is not always possible to carry out the operation due to the inaccessible location of the tumor. If metastases appear, even the removal of the tumor will not lead to a final recovery.

Radiation exposure involves exposure of the tumor to radioactive radiation, which leads to the death of cancer cells. As a preventive measure, nearby lymph nodes and tissues are also trained. Depending on the stage of the disease after radiation therapy, the decision is made about the need for surgery.

Chemotherapy means that a medicinal substance is injected into the body of a sick person, which has a destructive effect on the pathologically changed cells. The disadvantage of this treatment is that the injected drug is toxic to the whole body. For this reason, this type of treatment is hard tolerated by patients.

But it is necessary because it prevents the spread of the tumor to neighboring organs and the occurrence of metastases.

After the main course of treatment, the patient is prescribed medicines to eliminate its negative effects and increase immunity. The attending physician individually selects a treatment regimen that will help to defeat the disease in the shortest possible time. In this case, the goal of treatment is also to preserve the integrity of the respiratory system and smell.

What is the best treatment for nasal cancer?

The best method of a skin cancer treatment is a cryosurgery – procedure where tumor cells freeze with a liquid netrogen, which has a temperature below 100 C. Water inside cancer cells crystallizes, sharp crystals destroy cell membranes and kill cancer cells. Healthy cells don’t get destroyed by low temperature treatment.

Where can I get cryosurgery?

Not every clinic in the world specialises on cryosurgery.

Doctors at the Oncology Center Elena Canton in St. Petersburg (Russia) have been treating skin cancer in this way for more than 30 years. In their biography there are thousands of saved lives of people who other oncologists refused to accept because of the extensive development of the tumor, age, and the most severe course of the disease.

At present, the Oncology Center Elena Canton is accepting more and more patients from other countries (Europe and the USA) – anyone can become a patient in Elena Canton, regardless of region of residence and age.

Prevention and prognosis of nasal cancer

Due to the fact that the true causes of the development of malignant neoplasms in the nasal cavity have not been reliably established, it is clear that any actions will help prevent its occurrence. Nevertheless, observing a number of preventive measures, one can somewhat reduce or eliminate the possibility of the influence of negative factors causing cancer development:

  • strengthening the body’s defenses;
  • the elimination of free radicals;
  • limit exposure to ultraviolet rays;
  • timely treatment of inflammatory diseases of the respiratory system;
  • to give up smoking;
  • the use of protective equipment when working in hazardous industries.

Strong immunity is considered the best way to prevent cancer. It is the immune cells that first respond to malignant neoplasms and prevent their activation and growth. Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen the immune system by any possible means. Studies have confirmed that normal cells are converted to cancer under the influence of so-called free radicals.

It is possible to neutralize their effect by taking antioxidants, and these are: fresh vegetables and fruits, greens, vitamins of groups C and E. It is known that excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation causes the formation of free radicals. Therefore, it is necessary to limit the duration of direct sunlight penetration on human skin to 30 minutes a day.

It is important when working on hazardous industries to use special devices that prevent the inhalation of harmful compounds: masks, gauze dressings, respirators. The prognosis for any oncological diseases is generally unfavorable, but it all depends on the timeliness of pathology detection and the start of treatment. If there are no metastases for nasal cancer, then the probability of cure is very high.

Can I survive with a cancer on nose?

Detection of a malignant tumor (excluding basal cell carcinoma) in the nose at stages 1–2 and adequate treatment ensures a five-year survival rate of about 75%. This indicator increases if the combination therapy has changed. If regional lymph nodes are affected by metastases, the probability of five-year survival after diagnosis is reduced to 37%.

If isolated treatment was used for the treatment of nasal cancer, for example, only surgery or only radiation therapy, then this figure drops to 20%.

Detection of a malignant tumor in the nose in the fourth stage guarantees survival for 3 years only in 30% of cases.

Such statistics is the answer to the question whether it can be so that the cancer of the nose will end in death. From this it follows that careful attention to one’s own health and paying attention to pathological changes in one’s well-being will help in a timely manner to identify a dangerous disease and prevent its serious consequences.


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