Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (tumor)

Ear Nose | Oncology | Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (tumor) (Disease)


Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is the most common cancer originating in the nasopharynx, the uppermost region of the pharynx (throat), behind the nose where the nasal passages and auditory tubes join the remainder of the upper respiratory tract. NPC differs significantly from other cancers of the head and neck in its occurrence, causes, clinical behavior, and treatment.

It is vastly more common in certain regions of East Asia and Africa than elsewhere, with viral, dietary and genetic factors implicated in its causation. It is most common in males. It is a squamous cell carcinoma or an undifferentiated type. Squamous cells are a flat type of cell found in the skin and the membranes that line some body cavities. A lump in your neck is caused by a swollen lymph node

Differentiation means how different the cancer cells are from normal cells. Undifferentiated is a word used to describe cells that do not have their mature features or functions. n its early stages, nasopharyngeal carcinoma may not cause any symptoms. Possible noticeable symptoms of nasopharyngeal carcinoma include: blood in your saliva, bloody discharge from your nose, nasal congestion, hearing loss, frequent ear infections, headaches

Causes and Risk factors

Early nasopharyngeal carcinoma symptoms may not always prompt you to see your doctor. However, if you notice any unusual and persistent changes in your body, such as unusual nasal congestion, that dont seem right to you, see your doctor. Cancer begins when one or more genetic mutations cause normal cells to grow out of control, invade surrounding structures and eventually spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. In nasopharyngeal carcinomas, this process begins in the squamous cells that line the surface of the nasopharynx.

Exactly what causes the gene mutations that lead to nasopharyngeal carcinoma isnt known, though factors, such as the Epstein-Barr virus, that increase the risk of this cancer have been identified. However, it isnt clear why some people with all the risk factors never develop cancer, while others who have no apparent risk factors do.

Diagnosis and Treatment

You and your doctor work together to devise a treatment plan based on several factors, such as the stage of your cancer, your treatment goals, your overall health and the side effects youre willing to tolerate. Treatment for nasopharyngeal carcinoma usually begins with radiation therapy, or a combination of radiation and chemotherapy. ...