Chronic Sinusitis Linked to Cancer Risk
A new study suggests that older adults with chronic sinus problems have a slightly increased risk for certain cancers of the head and neck. Sinusitis—inflammation of the sinus cavities—causes nasal congestion and pressure in the face and head. It's a common condition that is considered chronic if it persists for 12 weeks or more.
Head and neck cancers that have been linked to chronic sinus infections are very rare, so the additional risk is small. Types include cancer of the upper throat behind the nose (nasopharyngeal cancer), cancer of the middle of the throat behind the mouth, related to HPV infection (human papillomavirus-related oropharyngeal cancer), and cancer of the sinus cavities (nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cavity cancers).
According to the study, the increased cancer risk occurs primarily within the first year following a chronic sinusitis diagnosis. It may be that inflammation in the body plays a role, or that people with chronic sinus infections have a weakened immune system. It also may be that medical exams and tests for chronic sinus problems lead to cancer detection. More research is needed.
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