Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cancer: After Treatment

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 08/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about your medical care after cancer treatment is finished and why this follow-up care is important. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

After treatment for nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancer ends, talk with your doctor about developing a follow-up care plan. This plan may include regular physical examinations and/or medical tests to monitor your recovery for the coming months and years.

ASCO offers cancer treatment summary forms to help keep track of the cancer treatment you received and develop a survivorship care plan once treatment is completed.

If the cancer recurs, it most commonly happens within the first two or three years after diagnosis, so follow-up visits will be more frequent during the first two or three years. Diagnostic examinations, such as CT scans, may be needed to watch for any signs of recurrences or to monitor how well the current treatment is working.

Rehabilitation is a major part of follow-up care after head and neck cancer treatment. People may receive physical therapy and speech therapy to regain skills, such as talking and swallowing. Supportive care to manage symptoms and maintain nutrition during and after treatment may be recommended. Some people may need to learn new ways to eat or adjust to eating foods that have been prepared differently. After surgery, a prosthodontist can help in the restoration and rehabilitation of any oral cavity structures that were removed during surgery.

Rehabilitation of physical changes resulting from a maxillectomy often requires a prosthesis. Prevention of dental decay by fluoride application is very important to avoid loss of existing teeth. Special eye care may also be necessary. Many times when a maxillectomy is done, fluid will accumulate in the middle ear on the side of surgery. Surgery to the eardrum, called a myringotomy, to drain this fluid may be required. Very frequently, especially after craniofacial resection, people will lose their sense of smell, called anosmia. It is important for these people to receive special coping strategies, especially around the house and work area, in case of chemical spills, smoke from a fire, and other potentially harmful situations. People who have received radiation therapy should avoid exposing the skin that received treatment to the sun. If radiation therapy included the neck, the thyroid gland should be checked regularly through blood tests.

People who have received treatment for nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancer may look different, feel tired, and be unable to talk or eat the way they did before treatment. Many people experience depression. The health care team can help people cope with these physical and emotional changes and connect them with support services. Support groups may help people cope with changes following treatment.

People recovering from nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancer are encouraged to follow established guidelines for good health, such as maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, eating a balanced diet, and having recommended cancer screening tests. Talk with your doctor to develop a plan that is best for your needs. Moderate physical activity can help rebuild your strength and energy level. Your doctor can help you create an appropriate exercise plan based upon your needs, physical abilities, and fitness level. Learn more about the next steps to take in survivorship, including making positive lifestyle changes.

The next section offers a list of questions you may want to ask. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Questions to Ask the Doctor, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.