Nasopharyngeal carcinoma

What is nasopharyngeal carcinoma?

Nasopharyngeal carcinoma

Cancer that develops in the nasopharynx, which is situated at the top of the back of the throat and directly behind the nose, is referred to as nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

In the United States, nasopharyngeal carcinoma is an extremely uncommon form of cancer. It happens a lot more frequently in other regions of the world, particularly in Southeast Asia.

Early detection of nasopharyngeal carcinoma is notoriously challenging. This is probably due to the fact that the nasopharynx is difficult to examine, and the symptoms of nasopharyngeal carcinoma are similar to those of other conditions that are more common.

Radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or some combination of the two is typically what is used to treat nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Sometimes, surgery is required. You and your physician should discuss the various treatment options available to you in light of the specifics of your condition.

Symptoms of nasopharyngeal carcinoma

In its early stages, nasopharyngeal carcinoma may not cause any symptoms. Possible noticeable symptoms of nasopharyngeal carcinoma include:

  • Symptoms of nasopharyngeal cancer can include:

    • a lump in the neck that doesn’t go away after 3 weeks
    • hearing loss (usually only in 1 ear)
    • tinnitus (hearing sounds that come from inside the body rather than from an outside source)
    • a blocked or stuffy nose (usually only blocked on 1 side)
    • nosebleeds
    • headaches
    • double vision
    • numbness in the bottom part of your face
    • swallowing problems
    • a hoarse voice
    • unintentional weight loss

Diagnosis of nasopharyngeal carcinoma

Following tests will be performed to diagnose nasopharyngeal cancer:

  • a nasendoscopy – a thin, flexible telescope (endoscope) is put in your nose and passed down your throat to look for any abnormalities; you’re usually conscious but local anaesthetic can be used to numb your nose and throat
  • imaging scans – MRI scans, CT scans or PET-CT scans can be used to look for tumours and check if the cancer has spread
  • a panendoscopy – a more detailed examination of your nose and throat carried out under general anaesthetic (where you’re unconscious) using a series of small, rigid telescopes connected together
  • a biopsy – where a small tissue sample is removed during a panendoscopy so it can be examined in a laboratory

Treatment of nasopharyngeal carcinoma

In the event that you have been diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer, you will receive treatment from a group of different medical professionals who collaborate as part of a multidisciplinary team (MDT).

Your multidisciplinary care team (MDT) will confer with you in order to determine which of the available treatment options they believe would be most beneficial for you.

The 2 main treatments for nasopharyngeal cancer are:

A combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy is often used.

Surgery isn’t usually used to treat nasopharyngeal cancer because it’s difficult for surgeons to access the affected area.

If you smoke, it’s important you give up. Smoking increases your risk of cancer returning and may cause more side effects from treatment.

Radiotherapy in nasopharyngeal cancer

Radiotherapy is the treatment of choice for nasopharyngeal cancer the vast majority of the time. You can use it on its own to treat cancers in their very early stages, or you can combine it with chemotherapy to treat cancers in their more advanced stages.

Radiotherapy from the outside is what’s used the vast majority of the time. Beams of high-energy radiation are concentrated by a machine on the region of the body that needs to be treated. In the treatment of nasopharyngeal cancer, an innovative and highly developed form of external radiotherapy known as intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is utilised.

It entails directing radiation beams of varying intensities and energies at a tumour while keeping in mind a variety of different angles. This increases the amount of radiation that is delivered to the tumour while reducing the impact on the healthy tissue that is surrounding it.

Stereotactic radiotherapy is an additional method of administering radiotherapy from the outside, and it is sometimes used to target a particular area in the body where the cancer has spread back to its original location.

In most cases, patients receive their external radiotherapy in brief sessions once a day, Monday through Friday, with a break over the weekends.

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  • July 14th, 2022

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