Nasopharyngeal cancer

What is nasopharyngeal cancer?
Nasopharyngeal cancer is a type of head and neck cancer that affects the nasopharynx, which is the upper part of the throat behind the nose. The nostrils lead into the nasopharynx, and an opening on each side of the nasopharynx leads to an ear.

What causes nasopharyngeal cancer?
It’s not clear what exactly causes nasopharyngeal cancer but several factors have been identified that increase the risk of developing it:
• Chinese or Asian ancestry
• Exposure to the Eppstein-Bar virus (EBV) which can increase the risk of developing certain cancers, including nasopharyngeal cancer
• Heavy use of alcohol. Heavy drinkers are more likely to develop nasopharyngeal cancer than non-drinkers

Having one or more of these risk factors does not mean that a person will definitely get nasopharyngeal cancer but can increase their chances of developing it.

What are the symptoms of nasopharyngeal cancer?
• Sore throat
• Nosebleeds
• Trouble breathing speaking
• Ear problems: pain or ringing in the ear
• Trouble hearing
• Lump in the nose or neck
• Headaches

How is nasopharyngeal cancer diagnosed?
In order to accurately diagnose and stage nasopharyngeal cancer, your physician may order the following tests:
• MRI scan to get a complete image of your throat and surrounding areas to determine whether there are any tumors or abnormal cells
• PET scan to find any malignant cancer cells
• CT scan to get a complete image of your throat and surrounding areas to determine whether there are any tumors or abnormal cells
• Fiber-optic  endoscopy for upper airway
• Nasal  endoscopy  which is a small tube with a camera that is inserted into the nose to look for any signs of cancer
• Biopsy to remove any tissue from the nasopharynx and examine closely under a microscope for any abnormalities
• Chest x-ray to detect any spread of the tumor to the lungs

How is nasopharyngeal cancer treated at KHCC?
The treating physician will present the case to the MDC panel who will determine the right treatment for the patient depending on how much the cancer has spread throughout the body.

At KHCC, the treatment plan for nasopharyngeal cancer depends on many factors, such as the patient’s age, and the stage of the disease as well as the size of the tumor. Typically, treatment includes varying degrees of surgery, radiotherapy and some chemotherapy.

At KHCC, nasopharyngeal cancer patients receive top quality care through a multidisciplinary team of head and neck cancer specialists that is entirely devoted to diagnosing and treating cancers of the head and neck.

Supportive Care
The Head and Neck multidisciplinary clinic works in close cooperation with other departments at KHCC so that nasopharyngeal cancer patients receive the most comprehensive care possible. Supportive care services at KHCC include: