About the disease
Nasopharyngeal cancer develops in head and neck. It is considered to be rare. It starts to grow in nasopharynx, which is located behind the nose and upper part of throat. Air, which person inhales, first goes through nasopharynx before it goes down to lungs. Causes of this cancer still remain unknown, although many scientists associate its development with the Epstein-Barr virus.
It happens because immune system, which is supposed to fight this virus, changes DNA of person, that leads to appearance of malignant cells in nasopharynx. Risk of development nasopharyngeal cancer also increases if person consumes big amount of salt-cured food, alcohol and tobacco.
According to various statistics there is approximately one case in 100 000 of this type of cancer recorded annually. Only in USA there were 3200 cases in 2012. 5-year survival statistics indicate that survival rate for the first stage reaches 72%, for the second stage - 65%, for the third stage - 62% and for the fourth stage - 38%. Nevertheless, it is more common in Asia and Africa. This type of cancer is more common in men. People usually develop it under the age of 55.
- Lump in neck or nose
- Hearing problems
- Ringing in ears
- Frequent nose bleeding
- Blurry vision
- Numbness in certain parts of face
- Dryness in mouth
During diagnosis otolaryngologist can examine your nose, ears, throat and neck with the help of flexible mirrors that can determine abnormal growths, swelling and redness of affected areas. Doctor will also palpate your neck to see if there is swelling. A tube can be placed into your mouth and gently pushed up to nasopharynx to examine it more closely.
Biopsy is recommended to examine tissue of nasopharynx under microscope and detect malignant cells.
Ultrasound helps determine swelling in neck.
CT scan is also used to produce images of nasopharynx.
Combined chemotherapy and radiotherapy are used together to give more effective results and kill malignant cells. Chemotherapy is administered in the form of drugs and radiotherapy - radiation rays. Usually patients need to undergo several courses of this treatment.
RO resection of nasopharyngeal cancer is used to remove cancer. Success of this type of surgery depends on location of cancer. If it is too close to the skull, surgery may be forbidden because of high risk of eye vision problems. RO resection uses microscopic devices to operate on such little area as nasopharynx. It is safer than usual surgery as it has less risk of further complications. This type of surgery has not been introduced long ago, but it already proved itself to be more efficient than conventional resection.
Overall, chances for recovery after these treatment options are very high and combined they give good results.