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Nasal Cancer

Nasal Cancer

Nasopharyngeal cancer, also known as nasopharyngeal carcinoma, is rare and affects only one in 100,000 people in the United States. This form of cancer occurs in the area behind the nose and above the back of the throat.

Who Is at Risk for Nasopharyngeal Cancer?

Nasopharyngeal cancer is most common in men between the ages of 30 and 50. Other risk factors associated with nasal cancer include

  • Being of Northern African or Southeast Asian descent
  • Previous infection with the Epstein-Barr virus
  • A family history of nasopharyngeal cancers
  • Long-term exposure to steam from smoked foods

What Are the Symptoms of Nasopharyngeal Cancer?

The symptoms of nasopharyngeal carcinoma often mimic colds and other common viral and bacterial infections. The most common symptoms include:

How Is Nasopharyngeal Cancer Diagnosed?

An otolaryngologist may suspect nasal cancer based on your physical symptoms and medical history. An endoscopy, biopsy, and imaging studies may be used to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment Options for Nasopharyngeal Cancer

The treatment of nasal cancer is based on your overall health, the stage of the cancer, and other individual factors.

Radiation therapy directs high-energy beams and rays at the tumor to kill the cancer cells. This is often the first line of treatment since nasopharyngeal cancers are highly sensitive to radiation. This treatment may be used alone or in combination with other therapies.

Chemotherapy involves using oral or intravenous drugs to kill cancer cells or prevent them from multiplying. Chemotherapy is typically administered in cycles lasting several weeks with rest periods in between to allow time for the body to recover. Chemotherapy is often used in conjunction with radiation for advanced-stage nasal cancers.

Surgery is most often used to treat nasopharyngeal tumors that do not respond to chemotherapy or radiation. Because of the location, these tumors can be difficult to remove surgically. The surgery is typically performed using endoscopic instruments. A more extensive procedure known as a neck dissection may be required if the cancer has spread to the nearby lymph nodes.