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Occupational Nasal and Sinus Cancer

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What is Nasal and Sinus Cancer?

Nasal and Sinus Cancers affect the space behind your nose, the cheekbone, forehead and the cavities inside your nose. It is different to cancer that can be found where the nose and throat join as this is called nasopharyngeal cancer.

Nasal and Sinus cancer is an extremely rare type of cancer affecting mainly men over 40 years of age.

What are the most common symptoms?

The most common symptoms include:

  • A continual blocked nose which only affects one nostril.
  • Unexplained nosebleeds.
  • A noticeable decrement in the sense of smell.
  • Having a runny or snotty nose.
  • A build-up of mucus in the throat and mouth.

It is important to note that these symptoms are also shared with far less serious conditions such as sinusitis or the common cold.

Symptoms can manifest into more noticeable ailments when the cancer is at a later (therefore more dangerous) stage.

Examples to note are:

  • A numb or painful face, more specifically the upper cheek area.
  • Glands in the neck may begin to swell.
  • Seeing double or blurry/partial vision.
  • Any growth or bump on the face or in the mouth.
  • Persistently watery eye.

Nasal and Sinus Cancer


What are the main factors that will increase the risk of developing Nasal and Sinus Cancer?

There are multiple factors that could increase the risk of Nasal and Sinus Cancer, a few being:

  • Smoking – Among the vast array of diseases and conditions smoking can contribute toward, Nasal and Sinus Cancer is in there. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the longer or more frequent you smoke also increases chances as developing Nasal and Sinus Cancer.
  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) – This is common virus that results in the development of growths or warts. There are many different strands of the HPV virus. Each strand gives potential risk for different types of cancer. In every five diagnoses of Nasal Cancer, one is thought to be linked to the HP Virus.
  • Gender – The gender is relevant as this is a type of Cancer that mainly affects men, but not exclusively men. It has been known to develop in woman too.
  • Age – Four out of five cases of Nasal and Sinus Cancer develop in people at least 55 years of age.
  • Exposure at work – Persistent inhalation of wood dust, leather dust, cloth fibres, formaldehyde, nickel and chromium all have prolific effect on the potential risk of developing Nasal and Sinus Cancer

Where are you most at risk of developing Nasal and Sinus Cancer?

The Health and Safety Executive produced a study in 2012 which stipulated that around 1/3 of all Nasal and Sinus related cancer types are linked to exposure at work.

People with the following job roles are most at risk of having Nasal and Sinus Cancer:

  • Textile Industry Workers – Exposure to cloth fibres is linked to the Cancer.
  • Carpentry work – Being exposed to wood dust in furniture industries.
  • Flour – Baking and Flour milling increases risk.
  • Steel Industries – Nickel and Chromium dust is used to make stainless steel and can contribute to the risk of cancer if there is persistent inhalation.
  • Mineral Oils – These oils are used as a lubricant by metal workers, engineers and print industry workers to put on their equipment.



What is the diagnosis procedure for Nasal and Sinus Cancer?

Tests which help diagnose Nasal and Sinus Cancer include:

  • Nasal Endoscopy – A nasoendoscopy can be a slightly unpleasant procedure, so before it is began you have the option to receive anaesthetic spray on the back of your throat. The test consists of a long, thin flexible tube with a camera on the end. This is placed up your nose and into the affected area (the nasal cavity) for examination.
  • Panendoscopy – This procedure uses multiple telescopes connected up to examine all areas of the mouth, nose, voice box and oesophagus to search for an indication of Nasal and Sinus Cancer. It would be far too uncomfortable to undergo this test whilst conscious, so a general anaesthetic is used.
  • Biopsy – A biopsy means that a small sample of tissue would be taken from the area behind the nose and examined for signs of Nasal and Sinus Cancer. The tissue could be taken either by a small fine needle or may be done during an endoscopy.

How is Nasal and Sinus Cancer Treated?

Treatments for this particular Cancer vary:

  • Surgery – Surgeons are constantly looking for new ways to treat Cancer. They are attempting to remove the cancerous cells, whilst trying to avoid any damage to healthy cells. A newer type of surgery still being researched is lymph node dissection. It has been suggested that patient who don’t have cancer in their lymph nodes are still benefitting from surgery to check the nodes closest to the Cancer cells
  • Radiation Therapy – Radiation Therapy, commonly referred to as Radiotherapy, is a treatment which involves the focus of radiation on to the tumour or cancerous cells in an attempt to kill and neutralise it. Doctors are searching for new methods to increase the effectiveness of this treatment by effecting as little healthy cells as possible with the beams of radiation. Proton Therapy maybe a new way to increase the effectiveness as it as a much lower effecting area, however this is still undergoing research. Radiotherapy is usually used for earlier-stage cancers.
  • Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is often used in conjunction with other treatments to target bigger, later stage cancers that may have begun to spread. Involving the use of specific drugs that help kill the cancers. This type of treatment often has terrible side effects such as extreme illness and general bodily deterioration which is why it is still a heavily researched treatment.
  • Targeted Therapies – A newer area of research regarding Nasal and Sinus Cancer is Targeted Therapies which block the activity of substances that cause head and neck cancers to spread. Preventing the spread of the cancer has a significant increase on survival rates. This looks promising for future treatments as these developments will have a real impact.
  • Photodynamic therapy or PDT uses a combination of drugs and light on small cancers that can be reached with lasers in an attempt to treat them.

work gear


What protocols are supposed to be put in place by your employer to protect you from this risk?

Any employers requiring work in these conditions need to ensure they minimise any risks of this type to the minimal practical standard.

Employers should undertake a Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Assessment, also referred to as a COSHH. This assessment will show whether the workplace is suitable to work in without a risk to health.

It also should identify whether protection equipment should be provided. If protection is needed but not provided, this may mean the employer is liable for any risk you incur that increases your chances of developing Nasal and Sinus Cancer.

Ways in which risks could be minimised consist of:

  • Changing the substance or machinery that may be causing the exposure.
  • Personal Protective equipment can be issued to minimise the risk, such as breathing masks which would stop any harmful substance entering the airways.
  • Reporting defective equipment is also a sure-fire way to ensure that people are not exposed to the results for too long. For example, if a wood shaving machine is malfunctioning and throwing out more wood dust than it should, if it was left unreported multiple workers may come into contact with that machine and increase their risk of developing Nasal and Sinus Cancer. Whereas if it was reported maybe only one worker would be exposed for a minimal time period.

Employees must have undergone the correct training regarding the equipment and any chemicals they may use as a requirement of the job. Failure to provide this training may prove to hold the employer liable.

What is the value of my claim?

How much your claim is worth really depends on the grade of the cancer, the stage and whether or not it is terminal. Also, your claim can depend on factors such as loss of earnings, medical costs, travel costs and the effect on your daily life.

In general, damages claims like these tend to bring in upwards of 10,000 and can go much higher than that. However as each case is so specific it is hard to put general values on these claims.



How do I make a claim?

If after reading this you find yourself in the position of wanting to make a claim do not hesitate to get in touch with our highly experienced team through phone or email. Our solicitors have been dealing with claims of this nature for years, so get in touch and let us guide you through the rest.

Why use Oakwood Solicitors to make your Clinical Negligence case?

We have a dedicated team of solicitors and paralegals who have many years’ experience between them in running cases of this nature. They are highly trained to deal with all aspects of Mediical Negligence.

We want to ensure that clients are not overwhelmed by legal jargon, medical terms they don’t understand, and to allow the claims procedure to be as transparent as possible.





If you believe your Nasal and Sinus Cancer diagnosis is work-related, get in touch today for a free initial consultation. Choose one of the methods on the right-hand side of this page, or call us on 0113 200 9787 to find out how we can help you.

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