Nasopharyngeal cancer

What is nasopharyngeal cancer?

Nasopharyngeal cancer is a malignant tumour that starts in the cells of the nasopharynx. Malignant means that it can spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body.

Risk factors for nasopharyngeal cancer

Any substance or condition that increases cancer risk is referred to as a risk factor. The most important risk factor for developing nasopharyngeal cancer is Southeast Asian or Chinese ancestry, particularly Cantonese ancestry. However, most cancers are the result of many risk factors.

Symptoms of nasopharyngeal cancer

Nasopharyngeal cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms in its early stages. Symptoms appear once the tumour grows into surrounding tissues and organs . Most nasopharyngeal cancers are diagnosed after the cancer has spread to a lymph node in the neck.

Diagnosis of nasopharyngeal cancer

Diagnosis is the process of finding out the cause of a health problem. Diagnosing nasopharyngeal cancer usually begins with a visit to your family doctor. Your doctor will ask you about any symptoms you have and may do a physical exam. Based on this information, your doctor may refer you to a specialist or order tests to check for nasopharyngeal cancer or other health problems.

Grading pharyngeal cancer

Grading describes how the cancer cells look compared to normal, healthy cells. Knowing the grade gives your healthcare team an idea of how quickly the cancer may be growing and how likely it is to spread.

Stages of nasopharyngeal cancer

The most common staging system for nasopharyngeal cancer is the TNM system. The International Union Against Cancer (UICC) uses the TNM system to describe the extent of many solid tumour cancers.

If nasopharyngeal cancer spreads

Cancer cells can spread from the nasopharynx to other parts of the body. This spread is called metastasis.

Prognosis and survival for nasopharyngeal cancer

The most important prognostic factor for nasopharyngeal cancer is the stage. Learn more about other prognostic factors.

Treatments for nasopharyngeal cancer

Radiation therapy is often used to treat nasopharyngeal cancer. Chemotherapy is usually given with radiation therapy (called chemoradiation) or it may be used alone.

Supportive care for pharyngeal cancer

Supportive care helps people meet the physical, practical, emotional and spiritual challenges of pharyngeal cancer. It is an important part of cancer care. There are many programs and services available to help meet the needs and improve the quality of life of people living with cancer and their loved ones, especially after treatment has ended.

Head and neck cancer statistics

Cancer statistics tell us how many people in Canada are diagnosed with and die from nasopharyngeal cancer in a certain time frame.

Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

We do our best to make sure that the information we provide is accurate and reliable but cannot guarantee that it is error-free or complete.

The Canadian Cancer Society is not responsible for the quality of the information or services provided by other organizations and mentioned on, nor do we endorse any service, product, treatment or therapy.

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