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designated cancer center

Diagnosis and Treatment of Cancer in the Maxillary Sinuses

The maxillary sinuses are a subset of the paranasal sinuses and can generally be thought of as the sinuses, or cavities, beneath the cheeks and on the sides of the nose. The maxillary sinuses are the most common region that paranasal sinus cancer arises, and most cancers in the maxillary sinuses are squamous cell carcinomas, meaning they arise from flat, thin cells in the epidermis lining the maxillary sinus.

Risk Factors

People who are exposed to mustard gas, isopropyl oils, volatile hydrocarbons, or metals like nickel and chromium (which occurs most commonly in the leather tanning, nickel mining and carpentry industries) have an increased risk of developing paranasal cancer including maxillary sinus cancer.

Furthermore, past exposure to an extremely long-acting radioactive chemical called Thorotrast that was used for radiographic studies in the 1960s is thought to increase the risk of maxillary sinus cancer. Chronic sinusitis may also increase the risk of developing the disease.

In addition, tobacco use increases the risk of developing the most common form of maxillary sinus cancer (squamous cell carcinoma) although tobacco's role in other types of paranasal and maxillary sinus cancer is less clear.

Improving Your Chances of Success

Encouragingly, studies have shown that you will respond better to treatment if you can stop smoking or chewing tobacco during and after receiving therapy. The Stanford Cancer Center offers free smoking cessation services to help you meet this important goal. Early diagnosis is also important because survival rates are higher when treatment is applied early.

Early maxillary sinus cancer can produce numbness of the cheeks or symptoms that are similar to sinus infections like sinusitis. Nevertheless, early detection and treatment of maxillary sinus cancer greatly improves survival rates, so it is important not to neglect potential symptoms, particularly if you have been exposed to agents known to increase risk.

Stanford Expertise

Even though maxillary sinus cancer is the most common form of paranasal sinus cancer, it is still quite rare. Therefore, it is important to be seen by a team of physicians who have expertise in treating this specific disease.

Depending on the type and stage of the tumors, maxillary sinus cancers are usually treated with surgery and radiation, and in advanced cases chemotherapy. Tissues in the maxillary sinuses have many blood vessels and bleeding is one of the more common risks associated with surgery.

At the Stanford Cancer Center, you or a family member can donate blood before your surgery. It will be temporarily banked for your own use in case you need blood during surgery.

The head and neck cancer specialists at the Cancer Center have experience treating maxillary sinus cancer, and will provide you with the multidisciplinary, quality, compassionate care that you deserve.

The multidisciplinary Cranial Base Center offers advanced surgical techniques that improve outcomes in maxillary sinus cancer patients.

Radiation therapy is also a mainstay of treatment for salivary gland cancer, but side effects have been problematic in the past.

Today, the Center offers ground breaking radiology technologies such as radiosurgery with the Stanford-developed CyberKnife and intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) which both allow physicians to radiate tumors in the ethmoid sinuses while reducing harm to closely situated organs like the eyes and brain.

Protecting Your Quality of Life
Your doctors and nurses will take care to minimize and manage treatment side effects like mucositis. If the cancer is advanced, reconstructive plastic surgeons and prosthodontists are integrated into treatment to ensure maximum success in preserving your appearance.

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