Late diagnosis of an occult tumour - what lessons can we learn?

S Parmar, I L C Chapple

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: Malignant tumours of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses are rare and late presentation of a maxillary sinus tumour is common due to the vague nature of the symptoms which can delay diagnosis.

METHODS: We report a female with a maxillary sinus tumour who was initially diagnosed with chronic idiopathic facial pain (CIFP) and sinusitis, which subsequently led to a delay in diagnosis and treatment of her tumour.

RESULTS: There was no clinical extra- or intra-oral pathology, however, she had varying clinical presentations of facial pain, anosmia, loss of gustatory function, and infra-orbital nerve paraesthesia. CT and MRI scans confirmed obliteration of the left maxillary sinus by a solid mass involving ethmoid and sphenoid sinuses and some cranial nerves. Biopsy confirmed a poorly differentiated carcinoma of the ethmoid and sphenoid sinuses and invasion of the cavernous sinus.

CONCLUSION: A morbid, but hidden tumour was left undiagnosed due to the unusual presentation of the patient's symptoms. It is essential that all patients are managed holistically and thorough historical, clinical and radiographic examination and appropriate investigations are carried out to prevent unnecessary and potentially time-wasting treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-4
Number of pages4
JournalBritish Dental Journal
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


  • Cranial Nerve Diseases
  • Delayed Diagnosis
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Facial Pain
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Maxillary Sinus
  • Maxillary Sinus Neoplasms
  • Maxillary Sinusitis
  • Middle Aged
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Trigeminal Nerve


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