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Nasopharyngeal Cancer

Nasopharyngeal Cancer: What is it

The nasopharynx is an area just behind the nose and above the back of the throat. The cells lining the nasopharynx can become cancerous and give rise to nasopharyngeal cancer, more commonly known as nose cancer.

It affects men more frequently than women and is the 8th most common cancer among men in Singapore.

Risk Factors of Nasopharyngeal Cancer

  1. A family history of nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC). Studies have suggested that genetic factors may play a part in NPC.
  2. Frequent consumption of preserved food such as salted vegetables, fish and meat. In a recent Singapore study, these are considered high-risk foods. The cooking of such foods releases toxic substances called nitrosamines into the fumes that we breathe.
  3. Epstein-Barr viral infection
  4. Smoking

Signs and Symptoms of Nasopharyngeal Cancer

  1. A painless lump in the neck – a swollen lymph node caused by infiltration of cancer cells
  2. Nosebleed or blood-stained phlegm
  3. Blocking of one or both nostrils
  4. Hearing loss or blocked feeling in one or both ears
  5. Discharge from the ear
  6. Blurred or double vision
  7. Hoarseness of voice
  8. Difficulty in swallowing
  9. Numbness of the affected side of the face

NPC often does not show any symptoms in the early stages. Some of the signs and symptoms listed above may be caused by a number of problems and may not indicate the presence of cancer, but if any of the above symptoms persists or is bothering you, do consult your doctor for advice.

Screening for Nasopharyngeal Cancer

Screening for nasopharyngeal cancer is currently not recommended.

Treatment for Nasopharyngeal Cancer

The treatment for nasopharyngeal cancer is radiation therapy, with chemotherapy added for advanced cases and occasionally surgery for relapses.

Specialist Services

Specialist services are available at the following institutions:

  • National Cancer Centre Singapore
    Tel: 6436 8088

  • Singapore General Hospital
    Tel: 6321 4377