Chronic sinonasal tract inflammation as a precursor to nasopharyngeal carcinoma and sinonasal malignancy in the United States

Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2017 Aug;7(8):786-793. doi: 10.1002/alr.21956. Epub 2017 May 23.


Background: Chronic inflammatory states have been linked to the development of malignancy. Chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) and allergic rhinitis (AR) have been associated with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) in population-based studies in Asia. A similar association with NPC and paranasal sinus malignancy (PSM) has not been defined in a North American population. Our purpose was to investigate the impact of CRS and AR on the risk of NPC and PSM.

Methods: The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare linked database was queried as a case-control study of adults ≥65 years of age. The study cohort included 2009 patients diagnosed with NPC and/or PSM diagnosed between 2003 and 2011, and 2009 propensity-score-matched controls selected from a 5% random sample of Medicare beneficiaries without cancer. CRS and AR were examined as exposures. Multivariable unconditional logistic regression was employed.

Results: Overall, NPC and PSM patients were more likely to have previous CRS diagnosis than the controls (9.2% vs 3.0% and 11.1% vs 2.7%, respectively). CRS was associated with greater odds of developing NPC (odds ratio [OR], 3.51; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.12-5.79) and PSM (OR, 5.30; 95% CI, 3.55-7.92). AR was associated with greater odds of developing NPC (OR, 4.23; 95% CI, 2.96 to 6.06) and PSM (OR, 3.35; 95% CI, 2.49-4.49). The number needed to harm in the exposed population was 311.

Conclusions: CRS and AR are associated with the presence of NPC and PSM in the elderly population of United States. This epidemiologic association will need to be examined for causative pathophysiologic mechanisms and utility in clinical diagnosis.

Keywords: allergic rhinitis; chronic rhinosinusitis; nasopharyngeal carcinoma; paranasal sinus malignancy.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Paranasal Sinus Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Paranasal Sinus Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Paranasal Sinuses / pathology*
  • Rhinitis / complications*
  • Rhinitis / epidemiology
  • Sinusitis / complications*
  • Sinusitis / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology