Small cancers of the nasopharynx are highly curable by radiation therapy and have shown
survival rates of 80% to 90%.
Moderately advanced lesions without clinical evidence of spread to cervical
lymph nodes are often curable and have shown survival rates of 50% to 70%.
Patients with advanced lesions, especially those associated with clinically
positive cervical lymph nodes, cranial nerve involvement, and bone destruction,
are poorly controlled locally by radiation therapy with or without surgery and
often develop distant metastases despite local control.[9,10]
Although most recurrences occur within 5 years of diagnosis, relapse can be
seen at longer intervals. The incidence of second primary malignancies appears
less than other head and neck sites.
Follow-up for patients includes routine periodic examination of the original
tumor site and neck, chest x-ray, MRI or CT scan, and blood work. Positron emission tomography scans may be useful in planning treatment for patients with suspected recurrence. Monitoring
of patients should include surveillance of thyroid and pituitary function;
dental and oral hygiene; jaw exercises to avoid trismus; evaluation of cranial
nerve function, especially those related to vision and hearing; and evaluation
of systemic complaints to identify distant metastasis.
Poorly differentiated squamous cancer has been associated with EBV
antibodies.[3,13] High-titer antibodies to virus capsid antigen and early
antigen, especially of high IgA class, or high titers that persist after
therapy, have been associated with a poorer prognosis. This finding remains
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