Nasopharyngeal Cancer

Nasopharyngeal cancers are any malignant growths found in nasopharynx, the upper part of the throat behind the nose. They are highly treatable if caught early, so it is important to be evaluated immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Lumps in the neck
  • Nosebleeds
  • Sore throat
  • Nasal obstruction
  • Changes in speaking

No one knows why a malignant or cancerous growth begins. However, certain risk factors for nasopharyngeal cancer include:

  • Chinese or Asian ancestry
  • Exposure to the Epstein-Barr virus

To make a complete and accurate diagnosis, your doctor will perform the following:

  • Medical history
  • Physical examination
  • Complete exam on your mouth, nose, head, and face to determine the type and nature of the growth
  • Biopsy to examine the tumor tissue and determine the kind of cancer, how aggressive it is, and the best way to treat it
  • Diagnostic, including imaging studies, lab tests, and detailed physical examinations, including:
    • Nasal Endoscopy: to view inside the nose. This is normally done by inserting a scope with a light and camera down the nose.
    • X-rays
    • MRI
    • CT scan
    • PET scan

Treatment for nasopharyngeal cancer depends on when and where the cancer is found, as well as the type and grade of the tumor; it can include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Surgery for nasopharyngeal cancer is usually not indicated; it may be required to remove affected lymph nodes in the neck.

After your surgery and completion of chemotherapy and/or radiation, your doctor will want to monitor you closely to make sure the cancer has not reoccurred. The visits may be as frequently as once a month for the first year following treatment. These visits will typically consist of a physical examination, flexible endoscopy, a discussion of how you are feeling, and any diagnostic tests needed to determine your health.