Esthesioneuroblastoma (es-THEE-zee-o-NOO-row-blas-TOE-muh) is a rare type of cancer that begins in the upper portion of the nasal cavity.

The area where esthesioneuroblastoma begins is separated from the brain by a bone that contains tiny holes that allow the nerves that control smell (olfactory nerves) to pass through. Esthesioneuroblastoma is also called olfactory neuroblastoma.

Esthesioneuroblastoma, which can occur at any age in adults, generally begins as a tumor in the nasal cavity and may grow or extend into the sinus, eyes and brain. People with esthesioneuroblastoma can lose their sense of smell, have frequent nosebleeds and experience difficulty breathing through their nostrils as the tumor grows.

Esthesioneuroblastoma can also spread to the lymph nodes in the neck and the parotid glands. In advanced cases, esthesioneuroblastoma can spread to other parts of the brain and other parts of the body, such as the lungs, liver and bones.

Esthesioneuroblastoma treatment usually includes surgery. Often, radiation and chemotherapy are recommended, as well.


Esthesioneuroblastoma symptoms include losing the sense of smell, frequent nosebleeds, and difficulty breathing through the nose. As it grows, the cancer may cause eye pain, ear pain, and headaches.

Esthesioneuroblastoma care at Mayo Clinic

Nov. 14, 2018
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