When the weather is cold, we\u2019re all just a little more prone to catching whatever illness is going around. But what if your runny nose is actually caused by something more than the common cold?\nParanasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer can mimic the common cold in several ways. But it\u2019s highly unlikely that cancer is causing your wintertime woes \u2014 cancer of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses is extremely rare, with approximately 2,000 people diagnosed in the United States each year.\nRELATED:\u00a0Sore Throat? Is It a Cold, Strep Throat, or Tonsillitis?\nNasal Cancer Risk Factors\nRisk factors are conditions that make a cancer diagnosis more likely, but having any of these risk factors does not automatically mean that you will develop cancer. The following factors are associated with cancers of the nose and its nearby neighbors:\n\nExposure to chemicals or dust at work (in carpentry, shoemaking, textile production, or baking)\nSmoking\n\nThe Difference Between Nasal Cancer and the Common Cold: Symptoms and Warning Signs\nThe common cold produces symptoms we\u2019re all familiar with. Cancer of the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses also produces symptoms, some of which can overlap with cold symptoms:\n\nBleeding from the nose\nChange in sense of smell\nSinus pain or pressure\nStuffy nose\n\nCancers of the nose can also result in more specific symptoms, particularly at more advanced stages:\n\nChange in vision\nFacial swelling or numbness\nTumor or polyp in the nose\nTumor on the roof of the mouth\n\nSo, Is It Cancer?\nYou can usually tell when you have a cold, but if you\u2019re unsure, call your doctor. If your cold doesn\u2019t go away with normal, at-home care, or if you begin to notice more serious symptoms, consider making an appointment, particularly if you have any of the risk factors for these types of cancers.\nYour doctor will examine you and consider your medical history. If he or she is not suspicious that you may have cancer, you may be sent home with medications to \u201cwait and see.\u201d If your symptoms do not improve, you may need a biopsy and imaging tests. If you do have cancer, your care team will check to see whether the cancer has spread and put together an individualized treatment plan.\nThe Bottom Line on Colds and Nasal Cancer\nIf you are concerned, call your doctor. For more information, visit UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.