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Paranasal Sinus and Nasal Cavity Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Treatment Option Overview

Except for T1 mucosal carcinomas, the accepted method of treatment is a combination of radiation therapy and surgery. The incidence of lymph node metastases is generally low (approximately 20% of all cases). Thus, routine radical neck dissection or elective neck radiation therapy is recommended only for patients presenting with positive nodes.

For patients with operable tumors, radical surgery is generally performed first to remove the bulk of the tumor and to establish drainage of the affected sinus(es). This is followed by postoperative radiation therapy. Some institutions continue to give a full dose of radiation therapy preoperatively for all stage II and stage III tumors and to operate 4 to 6 weeks later.[1,2,3] A review of published clinical results of radical radiation therapy for head and neck cancer suggests a significant loss of local control when the administration of radiation therapy was prolonged; therefore, lengthening of standard treatment schedules should be avoided whenever possible.[4]

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Surgical exploration may be required to determine operability.

Destruction of the base of skull (i.e., anterior cranial fossa), cavernous sinus, or the pterygoid process; infiltration of the mucous membranes of the nasopharynx; or nonresectable lymph node metastases are relative contraindications to surgery. Surgical approaches include fenestration with removal of the bulk tumor, which is usually followed by radiation therapy or block resection of the upper jaw. A combined craniofacial approach, including resection of the floor of the anterior cranial fossa is used with success in selected patients.[5] Removal of the eye is performed if the orbit is extensively invaded by cancer. Clinically positive nodes, if resectable, may be treated with radical neck dissection.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy must be carried to high doses for any significant probability of permanent control. The treatment volume must include all of the maxillary antrum and involved hemiparanasal sinus and contiguous areas. The orbit and its contents are excluded except under unusual circumstances. Lymph nodes of the neck, when palpable, should be treated in conjunction with treatment of advanced carcinomas of the antrum. This may be unnecessary for early tumors.

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