Nasopharyngeal cancer

NHS Choices information on nasopharyngeal cancer

Information written and reviewed by Certified Doctors.

Contents

Key Information

What should I do?

If you think you have this condition you should see a doctor within 48 hours.

How is it diagnosed?

Your doctor might suspect a malignant tumour of the nasopharynx after taking a full history and performing a physical examination, including your throat. Some special tests might be required to diagnose the tumour such as computerised tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Closer examination with a small flexible tube with a camera at the end of it can be done to look at the passage starting from your nose to your throat (nasendoscopy). During this test a small sample can be collected for analysis (biopsy).

What is the treatment?

Usually the tumour is treated either with radiotherapy or chemotherapy or a combination of both.

Surgery is not usually recommended for these tumours because it is difficult for the surgeon to access the area to remove the tumour.

When to worry?

If you develop any of the following symptoms, please see a doctor immediately:

  • severe pain
  • difficulty breathing
  • high pitched noise when breathing
  • double vision
  • fits or confusion.

Introduction

Nasopharyngeal cancer is cancer that affects the nasopharynx. This is the area where the nose and throat connect. This type of cancer is sometimes called throat cancer; however, throat cancer can also refer to:

Nasopharyngeal cancer is a rare type of cancer. More men than women are affected and it is most common in people aged between 50 and 60.

Want to know more?

Health A-Z: cancer

Cancer Research UK: nasopharyngeal cancer

Macmillan: cancer of the nasopharynx

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