The nose contains cartilage and bone, with the sinus cavities lined with specialized cells that form a mucous membrane. Nose cancer, a form of head and neck cancer, arises from cells within the sinus cavity that begin to proliferate uncontrollably to form a tumor in and around the sinus cavity. Patients with nose cancer often develop a number of signs of the disease before diagnosis.
A common sign of nose cancer is the development of abnormal nosebleeds, according to the National Cancer Institute. Nosebleeds occur when small blood vessels, called capillaries, within the mucous membrane of the sinus rupture and begin to bleed into the nose. Nose cancer can lead to nosebleeds because cancer growth damages healthy tissue within the nasal cavity, leading to abnormal bleeding. Additionally, cancer cells promote the development of new blood vessels, increasing the number of blood vessels within the mucous membrane to potentially contribute to bleeding from the nose. Although nosebleeds alone may indicate the presence of a number of disorders, not just nose cancer, patients suffering from frequent or heavy nosebleeds should seek medical attention to determine the cause of the bleeding.
Lumps in the Nose or Mouth
As the nose cancer progresses, the cancer cells begin to form larger tumors within the nasal cavity. As a result, nose cancer patients may notice the formation of lumps within the nasal cavity, corresponding to abnormal growths in the lining of the sinuses. The American Cancer Society also notes that nose cancer may cause abnormal growths on the face or on the palette—the roof of the mouth. The development of noticeable lumps in and around the nasal cavity may be a sign of more advanced nose cancer and requires immediate medical attention to investigate the possibility of cancer.
Blocked sinuses may be a sign of advanced nose cancer. Blocked sinuses indicate that the cancerous tumor has grown large enough to block most or all of the sinus cavity, interfering with the movement of mucus within the sinuses. Patients with blocked sinuses due to nose cancer may have already developed cancer growth in the nasal bones as well as the mucous membranes or developed growth in the back of the sinuses, indicating a relatively advanced stage of nose cancer. Patients who have unexplained nose blockages, especially in combination with other signs of nose cancer, should seek medical attention to undergo medical testing for the presence of cancer.