Nasal and paranasal tumors are abnormal growths that begin in and around the passageway within your nose (nasal cavity). Nasal tumors begin in the nasal cavity. Paranasal tumors begin in air-filled chambers around the nose called the paranasal sinuses.

Nasal and paranasal tumors can be noncancerous (benign) or they can be cancerous (malignant). Several types of nasal and paranasal tumors exist. Which type of tumor you have helps determine the best treatment for you.


Signs and symptoms of nasal and paranasal tumors can include:

  • Difficulty breathing through your nose
  • Loss of the sense of smell
  • Nosebleeds
  • Discharge from your nose
  • Facial swelling or pain
  • Watery eyes
  • A sore or lesion on the roof of your mouth
  • Vision problems
  • A lump in your neck
  • Difficulty opening your mouth

When to see a doctor

Talk to your doctor about any persistent signs and symptoms that worry you.


Nasal and paranasal tumors form when a genetic mutation turns normal, healthy cells into abnormal cells. Healthy cells grow and multiply at a set rate, eventually dying at a set time. Abnormal cells grow and multiply out of control, and they don't die. The accumulating abnormal cells form a mass (tumor).

If the abnormal cells become cancerous, they might invade nearby tissues and separate from an initial tumor to spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.

Risk factors

Factors that may increase the risk of nasal and paranasal tumors include:

  • Smoking and being around people who are smoking
  • Breathing in air pollution
  • Long-term exposure to chemicals and irritants in the air at work, such as wood dust, fumes from glue, rubbing alcohol and formaldehyde, and dust from flour, chromium and nickel
  • Infection with human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a common sexually transmitted infection


To reduce your risk of nasal and paranasal tumors, you can:

  • Stop smoking. If you don't smoke, don't start. If you smoke and want to quit, talk with your doctor about strategies that can help, such as counseling and medications.
  • Protect yourself at work. Follow your workplace safety rules for protecting yourself from harmful fumes and irritants in the air, such as wearing a face mask.

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Nasal and paranasal tumors care at Mayo Clinic

Sept. 25, 2021
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