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Sinus cancer

Diagnosing sinus cancer

A thorough and accurate cancer diagnosis is the first step in developing a sinus cancer treatment plan. Our sinus cancer experts use a variety of tests and tools designed for diagnosing sinus cancer, evaluating the disease and developing your individualized treatment plan. Throughout your treatment, we’ll use imaging and laboratory tests to track the size of the tumors, monitor your response to treatment, and modify your plan when needed.

Some evaluations designed for diagnosing sinus cancer include:

Biopsy

Biopsies are performed after CT scans and MRIs are completed. A biopsy is used to confirm the presence of cancer in the nasal cavity or paranasal sinus. A sample of tissues or cells is required for a biopsy, which must be conducted before treatment begins. Biopsies may also help to measure the aggressiveness of the cancer, and where it originated.

The types of biopsies typically used in diagnosing sinus cancers are:

Incisional biopsy: A small piece of tissue is cut from an abnormal-looking area. If the abnormal region is easily accessed, the sample may be taken at your doctor’s office. If the tumor is located deeper within the sinus, the biopsy may need to be performed in an operating room with anesthesia administered for pain. The sample may also be obtained through a more involved endoscopic or open surgical biopsy.

Excisional biopsy: The entire tumor or lesion is removed from a suspicious area. If the region is easily accessed, the sample may be taken in a physician’s office. If the tumor is deep inside the sinus, an operating room may be required, along with anesthesia for pain. A more involved endoscopic or open surgical biopsy may be necessary.

Fine needle aspiration (FNA): A very thin needle attached to a syringe is used to extract cells from a tumor or lump.

Endoscopic biopsy: Tumors and tissue in hard-to-reach places may be obtained through the use of an endoscope, or thin, lighted tube.

Open biopsy: An open surgical biopsy may be required to access tumors or tissue deep inside the sinuses. This may involve cutting skin and bones around the nose to reach the tumors.

Endoscopy

An endoscope may be inserted into the nose so that your doctor can examine hard-to-see areas such as the nasal and sinus passages, and internal and posterior parts of the nose.

Imaging tests

CT scan: The cross-sectional view provided by the CT scan may help locate abnormalities or tumors in the sinus area. We also may use the CT to measure tumor size, to determine if existing sinus cancer is growing or metastasizing into the eye or brain, and assess bony parts of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinus areas. Dye may be used to provide better contrast and image clarity.

MRI: An MRI may help study the soft tissue and identify cancers in the paranasal sinuses and nasal cavities. It also may offer insight into whether sinus cancer has spread to the eye or brain.