Nasal and paranasal tumors begin in your nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses. These tumors may be cancerous or noncancerous. Treatment depends on the situation, but often includes surgery to remove the tumor. Other treatments include radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
A nose tumor is an abnormal growth that begins inside your nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses. These tumors may be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
Examples of noncancerous nose tumors include:
Examples of cancerous nose tumors include:
The main difference is the location of the tumor:
Anyone can get nose tumors, but cancerous nasal tumors are more common in people aged 55 and over. According to the American Cancer Society, white people in the U.S. are much more likely to develop nose tumors than people who are Black. Additionally, men and people assigned male at birth (AMAB) are twice as likely to develop nose tumors as women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB).
Nose tumors are rare. Nasal and paranasal tumors account for approximately 3% to 5% of all head and neck cancers in the U.S.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
Nose tumor symptoms may include:
Nose tumors occur when the genes that control cell growth become damaged or abnormal. Experts still aren’t sure exactly why these gene changes occur.
There are, however, certain risk factors that can increase your risk for developing nose tumors, including exposure to:
It’s possible for a cancerous nose tumor to spread to other areas of your body (metastasis). But if a healthcare provider detects the tumor in the early stages, it reduces your risk of metastasis.
Healthcare providers use a staging system to determine how far a nasal or paranasal tumor has spread. There are four stages:
If you have questions about cancer staging, talk to your healthcare provider — they’re the best person to tell you about your specific situation.
First, a healthcare provider will perform a physical examination and ask you about your symptoms in detail. Next, they’ll recommend testing based on your specific situation. These tests may include:
Treatment for a nose tumor depends on several factors, including your medical history, whether the tumor is cancerous and your personal preferences. Healthcare providers typically recommend surgical removal for noncancerous nose tumors.
For cancerous nasal tumors, the most common approach includes surgery in combination with radiation therapy.
The main goal of surgery is to remove as much of the nose tumor as possible. If cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, a surgeon will remove them as well. Depending on your situation, your medical team may include oral surgeons, as well as neurosurgeons and ENTs (ear, nose and throat specialists).
Your provider may recommend radiation therapy as a stand-alone treatment or in combination with surgery. You might receive radiation therapy before surgery to shrink the tumor. Or you might undergo radiation therapy after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. People who can’t — or don’t wish to — undergo surgery, can receive radiation therapy without surgery.
Chemotherapy involves medications that kill cancer cells. It may be given orally (in pill form) or intravenously (through a vein). Chemotherapy isn’t used as often as surgery or radiation therapy in the treatment of nose tumors. But in some cases, your provider may recommend chemotherapy or chemoradiation (a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy).
There’s no way to prevent nose tumors altogether. But you can reduce your risk by avoiding risk factors like smoking and inhaling harmful fumes. If you work in an environment with harmful chemicals or substances, be sure to follow proper precautionary measures and wear appropriate protective equipment.
If you have a noncancerous nose tumor, then your provider will likely recommend surgery to remove it. Noncancerous nose tumors generally aren’t life-threatening.
If you have a cancerous nose tumor, your healthcare provider will design a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. This may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or a combination of treatments.
Many cancerous nose tumors are curable, especially if detected early. Like most types of cancer, the longer a nasal tumor goes undetected, the more likely it is to grow and spread.
The five-year survival rates for nose tumors vary depending on how far the cancer has spread:
But it’s important to remember that survival rates are estimates. They can’t tell you how long you’ll live or how effective treatment will be for you. If you have specific questions about cancer survival rates and your specific situation, talk to your healthcare provider.
Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider if you develop nose tumor symptoms, such as frequent nosebleeds, lack of sense of smell or nasal congestion that doesn’t go away.
If you or a loved one recently received a nose tumor diagnosis, here are some questions you may want to ask your healthcare provider:
In the early stages, nose tumor symptoms are similar to symptoms of the common cold. As the condition progresses, you may develop nasal congestion on one side that doesn’t go away. Other possible symptoms include nosebleeds, facial pain and loss of sense of smell. If you have chronic nasal or sinus blockage or any related symptoms, schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Nose tumors are rare, abnormal growths that begin inside your nasal cavity or paranasal sinus. These tumors may be noncancerous or cancerous. Hearing that you have a tumor can feel scary. If you or a loved one received a cancer diagnosis, talk to your healthcare provider about your treatment options and the resources available. Additionally, talking with a counselor can help you sort through the emotions that may arise during this time. You may also wish to join a local or online support group. Talking with others who are going through the same thing can be beneficial for your mental and emotional health.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/24/2023.
Learn more about our editorial process.