Chronic sinusitis is associated with some types of head and neck cancer among the elderly US population, according to a study published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.1

Through the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare database, Daniel Beachler, PhD, MHS, and Eric Engels, MD, MPH, of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD, evaluated data from 483,546 Medicare beneficiaries among a 5% random subcohort, as well as 826,436 patients from the entire source population, each of whom had developed cancer.

The researchers attempted to determine associations between chronic sinusitis and subsequent head and neck cancer. Patients were 65 years of age or older; data from 2004 to 2011 were used.

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Chronic sinusitis was associated with risk of developing head and neck cancers such as nasopharyngeal cancer, human papillomavirus-related oropharyngeal cancer, and nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer.

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Increased risk was limited to mostly within a year of diagnosis of chronic sinusitis, due to associations being largely attenuated after a year or more of occurrence of chronic sinusitis.


  1. Beachler DC, Engels EA. Chronic sinusitis and risk of head and neck cancer in the US elderly population. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2016 Sep 8. doi: 10.1001/jamaoto.2016.2624. [Epub ahead of print]