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Esthesioneuroblastoma is also known as olfactory neuroblastoma. It is a rare malignant tumour that occurs in the upper nasal cavity. It is believed to arise from soft, lubricated tissue sensory neuroepithelial cells. A tumour can pile-up very quickly and may block one or both nostrils causing severe difficulty in breathing.

Esthesioneuroblastoma can occur at any age in adults. It usually begins as a tumour in the nasal cavity and later may spread to other parts, such aseyes and brain. In severe cases, esthesioneuroblastoma may spread even to the lungs, liver and bones. This condition is complicated to treat due to the location of thetumour and its closeness to cranial cavity. However, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are the most recommended treatment options.


The following are the signs and symptoms of esthesioneuroblastoma:

  • Bleeding Nose
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Changes in the sense of smell
  • Nasal obstruction
  • Nasal discharge
  • Fainting
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Facial swelling
  • Facial pain
  • Numbness
  • Double vision
  • Tiredness
  • Nasal polyp


The exact cause of esthesioneuroblastoma is unknown. However, this condition may originate from the following specific areas:

  • Autonomic ganglia of the nasal mucosa
  • Ectodermal olfactory placode
  • Sphenopalatine ganglia
  • Olfactory epithelium


Although, esthesioneuroblastoma can affect aperson of any age group, people with afamily history of esthesioneuroblastoma, neck or head cancer are at a higher risk of developing the condition. The following are a few risk factors for developing esthesioneuroblastoma:

  • Cigarette Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Environmental pollution
  • Exposure to chemicals in specific industry

The complications of esthesioneuroblastoma are unclear, however there is a possibility for the tumour to reoccur and spread to other parts of the body. If this condition is left untreated, it may also lead to the death of the person.


The doctor may first perform a physical examination to check for abnormalities in the body and also to understand the extent of the tumour. The following are the diagnostic tests the doctor may recommend.

  • Endoscopic examination helps in analyzing the size of thetumour in the nasal cavity.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography help to determine the location and extent of esthesioneuroblastoma.
  • A biopsy is a method performed to confirm the test results. It is a sample of the tissue taken from the body to examine it more closely. This procedure helps indifferentiating esthesioneuroblastoma from other tumours that may appear similar.


Esthesioneuroblastoma has diverse treatment due to its complex nature. The treatment depends on the stage of esthesioneuroblastoma. The following are the treatment option for esthesioneuroblastoma:

  • Surgery is the most common treatment foresthesioneuroblastoma. Surgical techniques involve the removal of atumour and the surrounding tissue. Surgical techniques vary, depending on stage and location of the tumour.
  • Radiation therapy is often done after surgery to eliminate cancer cells that might remain in the surrounding area of the tumour.
  • Chemotherapy is unified with radiation therapy after surgery to treat advanced tumours. Chemotherapy treatment isrecommended whenthere is an increased chance for the tumour to occur again.

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