Nasal and Paranasal Tumors

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.


Nasal and paranasal symptoms include headaches, facial pain and loss of sense of smell.
Nasal and paranasal symptoms include headaches, facial pain and loss of sense of smell.

What is a nose tumor?

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:

What’s the difference between a nasal tumor and a paranasal tumor?

The main difference is the location of the tumor:

  • Nasal tumor: A nasal tumor begins in your nasal cavity, located just behind your nose.
  • Paranasal sinus tumor: A paranasal sinus tumor begins in your paranasal sinuses — the air-filled chambers located around your nose.

Who gets nose tumors?

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).

Are tumors in the nose common?

Nose tumors are rare. Nasal and paranasal tumors account for approximately 3% to 5% of all head and neck cancers in the U.S.


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Symptoms and Causes

What are the symptoms of a nose tumor?

Nose tumor symptoms may include:

What causes tumors in the nose?

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:

  • Tobacco smoke (both primary and secondary).
  • Wood or leather dust.
  • Vapors from certain chemicals and substances, including glue, radium, solvents and formaldehyde.

Are there possible complications of not treating nose tumors?

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.

Nasal and paranasal cancer stages

Healthcare providers use a staging system to determine how far a nasal or paranasal tumor has spread. There are four stages:

  • Stage I. The tumor is still contained inside your nasal cavity or paranasal sinus.
  • Stage II. The tumor has spread to other parts of your nasal cavity or paranasal sinus.
  • Stage III. The tumor has spread into your sinus bones or your eye socket. It may have also spread to a nearby lymph node.
  • Stage IV. The tumor has spread deeper into the surrounding structures, such as your brain or other parts of your neck and skull. It may have also spread to distant areas of your body, including your lymph nodes.

If you have questions about cancer staging, talk to your healthcare provider — they’re the best person to tell you about your specific situation.

Diagnosis and Tests

How do you detect a nose tumor?

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:

  • Nasal endoscopy. During this procedure, a healthcare provider will use a thin, flexible tube with a tiny light and camera to look at the inside of your nasal passages and sinuses.
  • Blood tests. Your provider may take a small sample of your blood, then test it in a lab for signs of cancer.
  • Imaging tests. These tests may include X-rays, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT (computed tomography) scans.
  • Biopsy. During this procedure, a healthcare provider takes a small sample of tissue from the tumor. Then, they’ll send the tissue sample to a lab for analysis.

Management and Treatment

How are nose tumors treated?

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).

Radiation therapy

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).


Can I prevent nasal tumors?

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.

Outlook / Prognosis

What can I expect if I have a nose tumor?

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.

Are nasal and paranasal tumors curable?

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.

Nasal and paranasal cancer survival rates

The five-year survival rates for nose tumors vary depending on how far the cancer has spread:

  • If the tumor is only inside your nasal cavity or paranasal sinus, the five-year survival rate is 82%. That means 82% of people with this type of tumor are alive five years after their diagnosis.
  • If the cancer spreads to nearby structures or lymph nodes, the five-year survival rate is 52%. That means 52% of people with this type of tumor are alive five years after their diagnosis.
  • If the cancer spreads to distant areas of your body, the five-year survival rate is 42%. That means 42% of people with this type of tumor are alive five years after their diagnosis.

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.

Living With

When should I see my 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.

What questions should I ask my doctor?

If you or a loved one recently received a nose tumor diagnosis, here are some questions you may want to ask your healthcare provider:

  • Is the tumor cancerous or noncancerous?
  • Where is the tumor located?
  • How big is the tumor?
  • Has it spread?
  • What kind of treatment do you recommend?
  • How long will treatment take?
  • How often will I need to come in for treatment?
  • Will I be able to work or go to school while I undergo treatment?

Additional Common Questions

What does a tumor in your nose feel like?

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.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/24/2023.

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