Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (patient information)
Nasopharyngeal carcinoma On the Web
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- 1 Overview
- 2 What are the symptoms of Nasopharyngeal carcinoma?
- 3 What causes Nasopharyngeal carcinoma?
- 4 Who is at highest risk?
- 5 Diagnosis
- 6 When to seek urgent medical care?
- 7 Treatment options
- 8 Where to find medical care for Nasopharyngeal carcinoma?
- 9 What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?
- 10 Possible complications
- 11 Prevention of Nasopharyngeal carcinoma
- 12 Sources
What are the symptoms of Nasopharyngeal carcinoma?
- Abnormal (high-pitched) breathing sounds
- Coughing up blood
- Difficulty swallowing
- Hoarseness that does not get better in 1 - 2 weeks
- Neck pain
- Sore throat that does not get better in 1 - 2 weeks, even with antibiotics
- Swelling or lumps in the neck
- Unintentional weight loss
What causes Nasopharyngeal carcinoma?
Who is at highest risk?
The doctor will perform a physical exam. This may show a lump on the outside of the neck.
Tests may include:
When to seek urgent medical care?
Call your health care provider if:
You have symptoms of throat cancer, especially hoarseness or a change in voice with no obvious cause that lasts longer than 3 weeks You find a lump in your neck that does not go away in 2 - 3 weeks
- The goal of treatment is to completely remove the tumor, and prevent it from spreading to other parts of the body.
- When the tumor is larger or has spread to lymph nodes in the neck, a combination of radiation and chemotherapy is often used to preserve the voice box.
- Some patients need surgery to remove the tumor, including all or part of the vocal cords (laryngectomy). If you have a laryngectomy, speech therapy can help you learn other ways to talk.
- Many patients also need swallowing therapy after treatment to help them adjust to the changes in the structure of the throat.
Where to find medical care for Nasopharyngeal carcinoma?
What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?
Throat cancers can be cured in 90% of patients if detected early. If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or lymph nodes in the neck, 50 - 60% of patients can be cured. If the cancer has spread (metastasized) to parts of the body outside the head and neck, the cancer is not curable and treatment is aimed at prolonging and improving quality of life.
- Airway obstruction
- Difficulty swallowing
- Disfigurement of the neck or face
- Hardening of the skin of the neck
- Loss of voice and speaking ability
- Spread of the cancer to other body areas (metastasis)
Prevention of Nasopharyngeal carcinoma
Avoid smoking and other tobacco exposure. Limit or avoid alcohol use.