An olfactory neuroblastoma is a rare form of cancer. It starts in the nerves that affect your sense of smell.
Learn about the treatment options for Esthesioneuroblastoma at the UPMC Pituitary Center of Excellence.
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Olfactory neuroblastoma (also known as esthesioneuroblastoma) is a very rare cancer that develops in the upper part of the nasal cavity. It is thought to arise from neural tissue associated with the sense of smell.
Olfactory neuroblastomas generally grow slowly, but in some cases may progress rapidly and aggressively. The faster growing tumors are capable of widespread metastasis.
At UPMC, the preferred surgical treatment for olfactory neuroblastomas is the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA). This innovative, minimally invasive technique uses the nose and nasal cavities as natural corridors to access hard-to-reach or previously inoperable tumors. Benefits of EEA include:
To diagnose olfactory neuroblastoma, your doctor will:
The most common symptom of olfactory neuroblastoma is chronic congestion on one side of the nose. This may continue for months or even years before a diagnosis is made.
Other symptoms may include:
Depending upon the size and extent of spread of the tumor, you may also experience:
Your doctor may refer you to a neurologist or an ophthalmologist to check for those concerns.
Surgery, radiation therapy, or a combination of the two are typically used to treat these tumors.
Esthesioneuroblastomas often recur locally and may also spread to other parts of the body. Treatment that is early and aggressive produces the best prognosis.
Olfactory neuroblastoma may be approached directly using Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA). This state-of-the-art, minimally invasive approach allows surgeons to access the tumor through the natural corridor of the nose, without making an open incision. Surgeons then remove the tumor through the nose and nasal cavities.
EEA surgery offers the benefits of no incisions to heal, no disfigurement, and a faster recovery time.
EEA is an appropriate treatment option for most olfactory neuroblastomas and is advantageous as it results in fewer complications than an external approach.
If you need complementary treatments, such as radiation or chemotherapy, those therapies can begin soon after EEA surgery.
Postoperative radiation therapy has been shown to lower the rate of recurrence.
Chemotherapy may be used in cases involving esthesioneuroblastomas that are recurrent, unresectable (not removable), or metastatic.
When Thomas developed a rare cancer in his sinus cavity, UPMC neurosurgeons acted quickly to remove the mass using the EEA technique.