Esthesioneuroblastoma (es-THEE-zee-o-NOO-row-blas-TOE-muh) is an extremely uncommon cancer that appears in the nasal cavity. It is believed that it starts in the region of the brain that deciphers smell (also known as an olfactory bulb). Esthesioneuroblastoma is also commonly referred to as olfactory neuroblastoma.
Esthesioneuroblastoma can happen at any age in life, and typically begins as a small tumor in the nasal cavity that has potential to extend into the eye, sinus and brain areas. Individuals living with Esthesioneuroblastoma have regular nosebleeds and often deal with trouble breathing through their nostrils as the tumor grows. There is also potential for the patient to lose their sense of smell. Esthesioneuroblastoma treatments include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
The key to an early diagnosis is an early referral for an intranasal biopsy. An individual with a unilateral nasal obstruction and/or a recurrent epistaxis (nose bleeds) lasting longer than 30 - 60 days should undergo a thorough nasal evaluation by a trained otolaryngologist. Both CT and MRI procedures are typically necessary in most patients. This is due to the fact that the details of bony erosion are better revealed by CT images, while soft tissue structures are better perceived in MRI, both of these techniques usually are needed for almost all patients. After the radiologic studies are finished, a biopsy will be taken following the administering of a topical anesthesia.
The optic nerves are at risk of being attacked by the tumor as well as being harmed during either radical surgery or radiation, due to their close proximity to the olfactory nerves. Consequently, a preoperative ophthalmological evaluation is always needed to acquire a "baseline" for vision and assess any possible present visual deficits.
Treatment for Esthesioneuroblastoma usually includes radiation and surgery. Chemotherapy is an additional treatment option that may be used.
Normally, a neurosurgeon and a head and neck surgeon work with each other as a team to remove Esthesioneuroblastoma safely and effectively. Surgical methods differ, depending on where the tumor is located exactly.
High-energy beams, such as X-rays or protons, are use in radiation therapy to eliminate cancer cells. People with Esthesioneuroblastoma typically undergo radiation therapy following surgery to eliminate any microscopic cancer cells that might have survived in the head and neck.
Radiation therapy can also be used by itself or in conjunction with chemotherapy if surgery is not a realistic option because of health concerns or if the cancer is too advanced to be removed by means of an operation.
Because Esthesioneuroblastoma is close to many vital structures in your head, like your brain and your eyes, radiation beams must be aimed specifically to center in on cancer cells and save the healthy tissue that is nearby.
Chemotherapy uses medications to eliminate cancer cells. In individuals with Esthesioneuroblastoma, chemotherapy is used with radiation therapy following surgery to eliminate any cancer cells that may be left behind, particularly for cancers that are aggressive or widespread.