What is nasopharyngeal cancer?
Nasopharyngeal cancer starts in the cells of the nasopharynx, which is part of the throat (pharynx). A cancerous (malignant) tumour is a group of cancer cells that can grow into and destroy nearby tissue. It can also spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.
The pharynx is part of the digestive and respiratory systems. It is divided into 3 parts. The nasopharynx is the top part, located behind the nose. The oropharynx is the middle part. The hypopharynx is the bottom part.
Cells in the nasopharynx sometimes change and no longer grow or behave normally. These changes may lead to non-cancerous (benign) tumours such as angiofibroma or hemangioma.
But in some cases, changes to nasopharyngeal cells can cause nasopharyngeal cancer. Most
often, nasopharyngeal cancer starts in the
Rare types of nasopharyngeal cancer can also develop. These include nasopharyngeal papillary adenocarcinoma and minor salivary gland carcinoma.
Expert review and references
American Cancer Society . Nasopharyngeal Cancer . 2015 : https://www.cancer.org/.
American Society of Clinical Oncology . Nasopharyngeal Cancer . 2016 : https://www.cancer.net/.
National Cancer Institute . Nasopharyngeal Cancer Treatment (PDQ®) Health Professional Version . 2015 : https://www.cancer.gov/.
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.