Background: Occupational exposure to carcinogens contributes greatly to the etiology of sinonasal cancer (SNC), but the role of different risk factors in determining different histological subtypes is disputed.
Methodology: All consecutive surgical epithelial SNC cases (case-series study) underwent a systematic occupational medicine examination to determine previous exposure to a wide range of work-related chemical hazards.
Results: We investigated 65 SNC cases including intestinal-type adenocarcinoma [ITAC] squamous-cell carcinoma [SCC], and others. Occupational exposure was recognized for 39 cases. Occupational exposures were sensibly more frequent among ITAC than among SCC or other histotypes. Occupational exposure in ITAC cases was to leather or wood dust only, while among non-ITAC cases, we recognised exposure to formaldehyde, solvents and metal fumes. A high proportion of SNC with occupational exposure originated in the ethmoidal epithelium.
Conclusion: In our case-series of SNC, a very high frequency of previous occupational exposure to carcinogens was detected, suggesting that occupational hazards may be associated to the aetiopathogenesis, primarily for ITAC, but also for other histotypes. Besides leather or wood, other chemical agents must be recognized as occupational risk factors.