What is Esthesioneuroblastoma?

Esthesioneuroblastoma, or Olfactory Neuroblastoma, is a malignant, though uncommon, tumor that forms within the upper nasal cavity and the anterior skull base.

This condition can occur in adults of any age, and it usually starts off as a tumor within the nasal cavity with the potential to move into the eyes, sinus, and brain. As a result, patients could lose their sense of smell, they may experience frequent nosebleeds, and they might have trouble breathing with their nostrils.

Esthesioneuroblastoma can also spread to the lymph nodes with the neck and to other areas throughout the body, particularly when advanced.

Experts are not sure what causes this condition, or the risk factors for it.

What are the Symptoms of Esthesioneuroblastoma?

Symptoms will depend upon the location of the tumor, as well as how large it is and if it has spread.

Symptoms include

  • Nasal obstruction on one side
  • Nosebleeds
  • Facial pain
  • Headaches
  • A decreased sense of smell

When it spreads to the eyes, proptosis, decreased visual acuity, tearing, and double vision can occur.

When it moves into the brain, neurological signs, such as headaches, seizures, nausea, vomiting, changes in mental status, coma, and death can occur.

Esthesioneuroblastoma Causes

Esthesioneuroblastoma is also referred to as olfactory neuroblastoma or simply neuroblastoma. This disorder is linked to an inherited gene passed on to the next generation. As an autosomal recessive disorder, the offspring inherits two mutated genes and two normal genes – one from each parent. Sometimes, the parents show no signs of the disorder verifying the normal genes as dominate.

Even though the condition is uncommon and more prevalent in adults, heredity increases the chances of developing this disease at a very young age.

The leading cause is associated with the olfactory nerves in the upper part of the nasal cavity; the nerve tissues control the sense of smell and affected by the tumor’s compression. The growth of this malignant tumor is slow in developing, triggering breathing difficulties or nosebleeds. Inflammatory conditions of the surrounding areas or lymphatic system can provoke the disorder.

Exposure to harmful chemicals will set off this condition. Other environmental instigators include wood, nickel or cadmium dust, glue, formaldehyde and biological solvents. Lifestyle habits like smoking or drugs inhaled through the sinus cavities can also contribute to neuroblastoma.

How is Esthesioneuroblastoma Treated?

The treatment for esthesioneuroblastoma will typically include surgery, along with chemotherapy and radiation.

Unfortunately, because initial symptoms are similar to those of other conditions, many patients are not accurately diagnosed until this cancer is in its advanced stages.

Esthesioneuroblastoma Prevention

The best prevention is to be watchful of your health, adhering to a nourishing diet and living a healthy lifestyle; it’s also important to quit smoking and taking recreational drugs. If you are experiencing trouble with breathing or lose your sense of smell, call your doctor to prevent irreversible conditions.

You can’t change genetics, but you can talk with your doctor and give as much information and family medical histories for observation.

You need to learn about the risks of heredity related to this disease and your increased chances of developing this cancer. It remains urgent to inform your family on this inherited trait and the consequences concurrent with passing the gene on to your offspring.

Last Reviewed:
September 20, 2016
Last Updated:
December 20, 2017