Reducing your risk for nasopharyngeal cancer

You may lower your risk of developing nasopharyngeal cancer by doing the following.

Limit the amount of salted fish and pickled foods you eat

Research shows that a diet high in salt-cured foods, especially Chinese-style salted fish, increases the risk for nasopharyngeal cancer. Other studies suggest that vegetables pickled by fermentation may increase the risk. Limiting the amount of salted and pickled foods you eat may lower your chances of developing nasopharyngeal cancer.

Be a non-smoker

Smoking is a risk factor for nasopharyngeal cancer. Don’t start smoking. If you smoke, get help to quit.

Follow safety guidelines at work

Breathing in formaldehyde or wood dust at work is linked to a higher risk of nasopharyngeal cancer. Follow all work safety instructions to limit your contact with formaldehyde and wood dust.

Eat vegetables and fruit

Research suggests that eating a diet high in vegetables and fruit may offer some protection against nasopharyngeal cancer. Vegetables and fruit play a key role in a healthy diet. Eat a variety of vegetables and fruit every day.

Find out if you’re at high risk for nasopharyngeal cancer

Some people can have a higher than average risk for nasopharyngeal cancer. Talk to your doctor about your risk. If you are at higher than average risk, you may need to visit your doctor more often to check for nasopharyngeal cancer. Your doctor will recommend what tests you should have and how often you should have them.

More information about preventing cancer

Learn what you can do to prevent cancer.

Expert review and references

  • American Cancer Society . Nasopharyngeal Cancer . 2015 :
  • Chiesa F, Ostuni A, Grigolato R, Calabrese L, Anasarin M . Head and neck cancer prevention. Bernier J (ed.). Head and Neck Cancer: Multimodality Management. Springer; 2016: 2: 59-76.
  • Hu K, Chan A, Costantino P, Harrison L . Cancer of the nasopharynx: General principles and management. Harrison LB, Sessions RB, Kies MS (eds.). Head and Neck Cancer: A Multidisciplinary Approach. 4th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2014: 22A: 588 - 617.
  • Ng WT, Ngan RKC, Chan SH, et al . Management of nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Bernier J (ed.). Head and Neck Cancer: Multimodality Management. Springer; 2016: 26: 445 - 473.

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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