Squamous cell carcinoma of the sinonasal cavity arising as a second primary in individuals with head and neck cancer

Matthew E. Wolpoe, David Goldenberg, Wayne M. Koch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES/HYPOTHESIS: Second primary tumors occur frequently in patients with head and neck carcinoma. This may be caused by generalized exposure to carcinogens resulting in "field cancerization" or to the individuals' generalized susceptibility to cancer. The paranasal sinuses are not commonly included in the sites considered at risk for this process. We therefore sought to assess the overall risk of contracting a primary cancer in this region after having a tumor elsewhere in the upper aerodigestive tract. STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective. METHODS: Two thousand four hundred seventy-five patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the upper aerodigestive tract were analyzed using a tumor registry at a tertiary care institution. RESULTS: Five (0.2%) patients were identified as having a second primary in the sinonasal tract. The average interval between the index and second primary tumors was 28.4 (range 8-60) months. All five patients presented with symptoms typical of sinus inflammatory disease and had advanced sinus lesions at the time of diagnosis. These findings are typical of those with sinonasal carcinoma in that they present with nonspecific signs and symptoms and were diagnosed with locally advanced disease despite being in a surveillance program for their index cancer. CONCLUSIONS: Although uncommon, the data reported here support inclusion of the sinonasal tract in these surveillance programs. This could result in earlier detection and greater opportunity for curative intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)696-699
Number of pages4
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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