Cancer begins when cells in any part of the body start growing and multiplying uncontrollably. Nose cancer is a type of head and neck cancer. These cancers are rare and can begin in the nasal cavity or the paranasal sinuses. The nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses are made up of different cells and so, nose cancer can be of different types based on where it begins.
Squamous cell carcinomas are the most common types of nose cancer. Other types include adenocarcinomas, adenoid cystic carcinomas, and mucoepidermoid cancers. Nose cancer treatment options depend on several factors, primarily the type of cancer.
Nose Cancer Treatment Options
Treatment for your nose cancer is determined by a multidisciplinary healthcare team comprising an otolaryngologist, neurosurgeon, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, plastic surgeon, nurses, nutrition specialists and other health professionals. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment can improve nose cancer life expectancy.
There are several paranasal sinus and nose cancer treatment options available today. The standard treatment of choice is surgery. Other treatments that may be used include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy.
Surgery is the standard treatment for nose cancers and is used in all stages of this cancer. Its primary goal is to remove the cancerous tissue. Some surrounding healthy tissue and affected lymph nodes may also be removed during the surgical procedure. Surgery may be followed by radiation therapy or chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells and prevent any recurrence in some people.
Radiation therapy uses high energy radiation to kill cancer cells. In some early nose cancer cases, radiation therapy is sufficient to cure it. However, in slightly advanced stages, radiation therapy may be used with chemotherapy. In some cases, radiation therapy is used before surgery to reduce the size of the tumour to facilitate easy surgical removal.
Radiation therapy may be external or internal, and the best option chosen depends upon the type and stage of nose cancer.
Chemotherapy is a standard option used in cancer treatments. It uses powerful drugs to stop the growth or kill cancer cells. It can be given orally (by mouth) or injected into a vein or muscle. The mode of chemotherapy given depends upon the stage and type of nose cancer.
Other Treatments for Nose Cancer
Newer treatments used to treat nose cancer include targeted therapy and immunotherapy. Targeted therapy uses drugs that specifically target cancer cells. On the other hand, immunotherapy uses drugs that help the body’s immune system attack the cancer cells. Though these are not standard treatment options for nose cancer, research on their effectiveness in treating this cancer is still underway.
Nose Cancer Treatment: Based on Type and Stage
How to treat nose cancer depends upon its location, stage, grade and overall health. It is essential to discuss all your treatment options, treatments’ side effects, and nose cancer life expectancy following treatment. Feel free to speak to your doctor and healthcare team about any concerns you may have. If you have any doubts or queries, ask your doctor for a second opinion regarding your treatment plan.
When nose cancer is in the early stages, the goal is to remove the entire tumourous portion. In moderate cases, treatment aims to remove as much of the cancerous tissue as possible, preventing it from growing further. However, in advanced cases, the treatment goal is to provide symptomatic relief and prolong life.
Since nose cancers are rare, it may be helpful to seek a second opinion before you begin treatment. Speak to your doctor about the same.
During the diagnostic stage, nose cancer staging is done. This helps customise treatment plans for each patient.
- Treatment Options for Stages 0, I and 2
These are early-stage cancers limited to the nasal cavity but haven’t spread to nearby lymph nodes. These cancers are best treated by surgery, followed by radiation to prevent a recurrence.
- Treatment Options for Stage 3 and 4
In advanced Stage III and stage 4 nose cancer, the cancerous cells spread to lymph nodes. The primary treatment for this treatment includes surgery that removes the cancerous tissue and the affected lymph nodes. Surgery is often followed by radiation therapy or a combination of radiation and chemotherapy.
For nose cancers that have spread to other parts of the body, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy or a combination of these treatments may be used. Since this cancer is rare, your doctor may recommend you to sign up for a clinical trial.
Nose Cancer Life Expectancy
The outlook for nose cancer depends upon its stage at the time of diagnosis. The average five-year survival rate or nose cancer life expectancy five years after diagnosis is around 58%. Localised nose cancer has a higher five-year survival rate than cancers that have spread or metastasised.
Coping with Treatment
Every cancer treatment causes some side effects. Your doctor and healthcare team will inform you about any side effects that you may experience during your nose cancer treatment. Not everyone experiences the same side effects. Ask your healthcare team about the side effects you are likely to experience, when they are likely to occur, and the best way to manage them.