Toddler diagnosed with cancer after runny nose is dismissed as a sinus infection

For many parents with nursery-aged children, a runny nose is rarely a cause for concern.

But for one mother, this normally benign symptom turned out to be something much more serious for her three-year-old daughter.

According to Mail Online, the unnamed child was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer of the nasal cavity, after doctors initially dismissed her streaming nose as a sinus infection.

The tiny tot had mucus streaked with blood seeping from her right nostril, and had also complained of swelling and pain in her cheek.

The child, from Camberley in Surrey, was initially prescribed oral antibiotics for suspected periorbital cellulitis – an infection of the eyelid or the skin around your eyes. But when her symptoms continued, she was taken to the doctor once again.

Doctors then undertook blood tests in addition to an ultrasound scan of the neck and salivary glands.

The tests came back as normal and a diagnosis of mumps was given.

There are no medical treatments for the virus, but rest, plenty of fluids and over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol are recommended to relieve symptoms, with the infection usually passing in a week or two.

When her symptoms persisted, the little girl was given a second round of antibiotics and nasal drops for a sinus infection.

Sadly there was no improvement, and the toddler began to experience pain while eating and was struggling to breathe through her right nostril.

Credit: Peter Cade/Getty Images

A full three weeks after her symptoms began she was eventually sent for an MRI scan – and the results were truly shocking.

A large tumour was found in her nasal cavity and this had invaded the base of her skull, the muscles used for chewing, the bone at the root of the nose while parts of her brainstem had also become cancerous.

A diagnosis of parameningeal rhabdomyosarcoma – a rare cancer that can affect the nasal cavity, the middle ear, the paranasal sinuses as well as other sites – was given.

An aggressive course of chemo and radiotherapy was then started, but there are no updates as to the toddler’s current condition.

As a result of the case, scientists from Frimley Park Hospital, where the MRI was conducted, are urging doctors to consider nasal cancer if patients have a persistent runny nose in one nostril.

Figures published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) show that around 60 new cases of RMS (the acronym for rhabdomyosarcoma) are diagnosed in the UK each year.

RMS accounts for approximately two thirds of all sarcomas – ‘uncommon cancers that can affect any part of the body, on the inside or outside, including the muscle, bone, tendons, blood vessels and fatty tissues’ – in children aged between 0 and 14 years.