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Information About Cancer
Head and Neck Cancer

Diagnosis and Treatment of Cancer of the Ethmoid Sinuses

The ethmoid sinuses are a subset of the paranasal sinuses and can generally be thought of as the sinuses, or cavities, in the small area above the nose between the eyes. Ethmoid sinus cancer is a less common form of paranasal sinus cancer, and arises more frequently as an adenocarcinoma than other types of paranasal sinus cancer, meaning the cancer originates from the glandular cells, such as those that secrete mucous.

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 ethmoid sinus cancer. Chronic sinusitis may also increase the risk of developing the disease. Tobacco's role in the development of ethmoid sinus cancer is less clear.

Improving Your Chances of Success

Early ethmoid sinus cancer can produce symptoms that are similar to sinus infections like sinusitis. Nevertheless, early detection and treatment of ethmoid 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

Ethmoid sinus cancer is 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, ethmoid sinus cancers are usually treated with surgery and radiation, and in advanced cases chemotherapy. Tissues in the ethmoid 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 ethmoid sinus cancer, and will provide you with the multidisciplinary, quality, compassionate care that you deserve.

Small ethmoid sinus cancers can sometimes be removed endoscopically. Furthermore, great advances in skull base cancer surgery offered by the multidisciplinary Cranial Base Center have contributed to the improvement in outcomes for patients with ethmoid sinus cancer.

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.