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Information About Cancer
Head and Neck Cancer

Diagnosis and Treatment of Cancer of the Sphenoid Sinuses

The sphenoid sinuses are a subset of the paranasal sinuses and can generally be thought of as the sinuses, or cavities deep behind the nose between the eyes. Sphenoid sinus cancer is a least common form of paranasal sinus cancer.

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

Stanford Expertise

Sphenoid sinus cancer is extremely 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, sphenoid sinus cancers are usually treated with surgery and radiation, and in advanced cases chemotherapy. Tissues in the sphenoid 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 sphenoid 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.