Sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma: Case series and review of the literature

Judith Gorelick, Donald Ross, Lawrence Marentette, Mila Blaivas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE AND IMPORTANCE: We report on four cases of sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma (SNUC), a relatively newly described clinicopathological entity of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses. SNUC tends to present with advanced-stage disease, often with intracranial invasion, and requires an aggressive treatment approach that includes surgical resection. A review of the literature identified several reports of SNUC in pathology and otolaryngology journals since its initial description in 1986, but no report has yet appeared m the neurosurgery literature. CLINICAL PRESENTATION: Four patients presented with various symptoms related to the nose and/or orbit, including one or more of the following: Obstruction, epistaxis, decreased visual acuity, diplopia, and pain. All patients were noted to have masses in the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses, with or without intracranial extension. INTERVENTION: All four patients underwent multimodal treatment with chemotherapy, radiotherapy (60-65 Gy), and aggressive surgical resection via a combined bifrontal craniotomy and a subcranial approach to the anterior cranial fossa. Three of four patients died as a result of their disease, an average of 15 months after diagnosis. Only one patient remains alive, although with metastatic intracranial disease, at 24 months after diagnosis.CONCLUSION: SNUC is a rare neoplasm with a poor prognosis despite an aggressive multimodal approach to treatment. On the basis of our experience, we advocate radical resection as part of the initial combined therapy for patients who present with locally advanced, nonmetastatic disease but we suggest reserving surgery for patients with early brain invasion until there has been a radiographically proven central nervous system response to adjuvant therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)750-755
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Nasal cavity
  • Paranasal sinus
  • Sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma
  • Subcranial resection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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