Nasopharyngeal Cancer

Nasopharyngeal cancer (also known as NPC) is when a tumour develops in the lining of the nasopharynx which is the area of the upper part of the throat behind the nose.

NPC is quite common accounting for around 5% of all cancers in Malaysia. It can start at the age of 35 years with a peak incidence of around 50-60 years.

Image source: Springer

Main Causes of Oral Cancers

  • Genetic (common in Southern Chinese)
  • Family history
  • Smoking
  • Salted fish or preserved vegetables
  • Wood dust or industrial fumes (formaldehyde)
  • Epstein-Barr Virus

Symptoms & Signs of NPC

  • Tinnitus which is a buzzing sound in one ear (early sign)
  • Decreased hearing in one ear
  • Blocked or recurrent infection in one ear
  • Blocked or congested nose
  • Swollen gland in the neck
  • Recurrent nose bleeds
  • Headache or double vision (late sign)

CT, MRI & PET Scans helps to localise the NPC to help doctors plan treatment.

Treatment of NPC

Nasopharyngeal cancer is treated by a team of doctors and health professionals which include the ENT surgeon, Dietician and Oncologist. Treatment requires:

  • Intensive Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT)
  • Concurrent Chemo-Radiotherapy
  • Neck dissection or Naso-pharyngectomy surgery (required if chemo-radiotherapy fails)

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