Nasopharyngeal cancer is a rare type of head and neck cancer. It starts in the upper part of the throat, behind the nose. This area is called the nasopharynx.
Nasopharyngeal carcinoma is difficult to detect early, because the nasopharynx isn’t easy to examine and symptoms of nasopharyngeal carcinoma mimic those of other, more-common conditions.
In its early stages, nasopharyngeal carcinoma may not cause any symptoms. Possible noticeable symptoms of nasopharyngeal carcinoma include:
- A lump in your neck caused by a swollen lymph node
- Blood in your saliva
- Bloody discharge from your nose
- Nasal congestion or ringing in your ears
- Hearing loss
- Frequent ear infections
- Sore throat
The exact cause of nasopharyngeal cancer is unknown, but a number of factors can increase the risk of developing the condition.
- Having a job where a person is regularly exposed to hardwood dust
- Being of south Chinese or north African descent
- Having a diet very high salt-cured meats and fish
- Being exposed to the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a common virus that causes glandular fever
- Having a first-degree relative, such as parent, who’s had the condition
Treatment for nasopharyngeal carcinoma usually involves radiation therapy, chemotherapy or a combination of the two. You can work with your doctor to determine the exact approach depending on your particular situation.
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