How Rare is Nasopharyngeal Cancer?

It is a rare form of cancer that starts in the upper throat (pharynx), behind the nose (nasal), and over the roof of the mouth.

Mucous membranes cover the tissues in these locations and secret fluids to keep them moist. Apart from that, they’re continually exposed to toxic substances in the environment and infectious microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria. This region is where everything that comes into contact with the body passes.

Is nasopharyngeal cancer common?

Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is a rarely occurring cancer (NPC). But it is the most prevalent cancer of the nasopharynx so far. Carcinoma begins in the cells (also known as epithelial cells) that line the body’s interior and exterior surfaces (called epithelial cells).

There are three different categories of NPCs. They all come from epithelial cells that line the nasopharynx, but under a microscope, the cells of each kind seem different:

  • Non-keratinizing undifferentiated carcinoma
  • Non-keratinizing differentiated carcinoma
  • Keratinizing squamous cell carcinoma

First symptoms of nasopharyngeal cancer

Most people do not detect any cancer indications until the disease has advanced to a severe stage. In any case, there are some nasopharyngeal cancer symptoms that you need to be aware of.

  • A lump in the neck
  • Stuffed or blocked nose
  • A sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Hoarseness of voice
  • Hearing impairment
  • Nose bleeding
  • Double eyesight or hazy vision
  • Ear infections
  • Rapid weight reduction
  • Numbness or discomfort in the face
  • The sensation of ringing in the ears
  • Breathing, speaking and swallowing difficulties
  • Sense of fullness in the ears

Leading cause of nasopharyngeal cancer

Although the specific etiology of cancer is unknown, some variables have been linked to it, including:

  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV): This virus causes glandular fever and mononucleosis when contracted. The virus is linked to nasopharyngeal cancer, but not everyone who is infected develops it. Although scientists are still trying to figure out how the virus causes cancer, it might be connected to genetic elements that affect nasopharyngeal cells.
  • Diet rich in salt-cured fish and meat: Consuming these meals raises your chances of having this malignancy.
  • Tobacco and alcoholic beverages: Although there is no proven relationship between tobacco and alcohol and this malignancy, excessive smoking and alcohol usage might raise your risk.
  • Age, race, and gender: Most nasopharyngeal cancer occurrences occur in adults aged 30 to 50. It may, however, happen at any age. People in Southeast Asia, South China, and North Africa are also at a greater risk. In terms of gender, males are two to three times more common in women to acquire this cancer.
  • Occupation: You may be at risk for this malignancy if you work in certain occupations. People exposed to hardwood dust or formaldehyde regularly may be at an elevated risk of cancer.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV): People infected with HPV have a higher chance of acquiring nasopharyngeal cancer.
  • Family history: You may be at greater risk if you have a family member who has had this form of cancer or if you have specific genes linked to cancer development.

The survival rate for nasopharyngeal cancer

Cancer survival rates are usually defined by stage. These phases are localized, regional, and distant in the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program survival rate database.

  • Localized cancers occur only in the tissue where they first appeared.
  • Regional cancers have spread to surrounding places.
  • Distant cancers have spread to other regions of the body.

According to the American Cancer Society, which utilizes the NCI’s SEER database, 85 percent of individuals identified with localized nasopharyngeal malignancies are still alive five years following diagnosis.

This figure is 71 percent for regional stage diagnosis. The five-year survival percentage for nasopharyngeal cancer that has spread and been identified as “remote” is 49%. Nasopharyngeal malignancies have a 61 percent survival rate on average.

Is nasopharyngeal cancer aggressive?

Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is a rare kind of head and neck cancer that is very aggressive and has the potential to metastasize (spread to different body parts). Distant metastasis is the most common cause of therapy failure in this malignancy. However, the underlying molecular processes of NPC metastasis are still poorly known.


The prognosis for persons who have nasopharyngeal carcinoma is not always favorable. The earlier the condition is detected, the greater the response to therapy.

Unfortunately, nasopharyngeal carcinoma is often discovered later than it should be. Since throat cancer symptoms may not become apparent until the disease has progressed to a more advanced stage, it is important to go for regular health checkups.

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