Skip to content

    Cancer Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Nasopharyngeal Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - General Information About Nasopharyngeal Cancer

    Anatomy

    The nasopharynx has a cuboidal shape. The lateral walls are formed by the eustachian tube and the fossa of Rosenmuller. The roof, sloping downward from anterior to posterior, is bordered by the pharyngeal hypophysis, pharyngeal tonsil, and pharyngeal bursa with the base of the skull above. Anteriorly, the nasopharynx abuts the posterior choanae and nasal cavity, and the posterior boundary is formed by the muscles of the posterior pharyngeal wall. Inferiorly, the nasopharynx ends at an imaginary horizontal line formed by the upper surface of the soft palate and the posterior pharyngeal wall.

    Recommended Related to Cancer

    Overview

    This complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) information summary provides an overview of the use of Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup as a treatment for people with cancer. The summary includes a brief history of Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup and a review of animal and human studies. The information in the Human/Clinical Studies section is summarized in a table located at the end of that section. This summary contains the following key information: "Selected Vegetables" and "Sun's Soup"...

    Read the Overview article > >

    Risk Factors

    Unlike other squamous cell cancers of the head and neck, nasopharyngeal cancer does not appear to be linked to excess use of tobacco or moderate alcohol intake (up to 15 drinks a week). Factors thought to predispose to this tumor include the following:

    • Chinese (or Asian) ancestry.[1]
    • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) exposure.
    • Unknown factors that result in very rare familial clusters.[2]
    • Heavy alcohol intake.[3]

    Signs and Symptoms

    Symptoms and signs at presentation include the following:

    In the patient who presents with only cervical adenopathy, the finding of EBV genomic material in the tissue after amplification of DNA with the polymerase chain reaction lends strong evidence for a nasopharyngeal primary tumor, and a concerted search should be conducted in that area.[4]

    Diagnostic Tests

    Diagnosis is made by biopsy of the nasopharyngeal mass. Workup includes the following:[5]

    • Careful visual examination (by fiberoptic endoscopic examination or examination under anesthesia [EUA]).
    • Documentation of the size and location of the tumor and neck nodes.
    • Evaluation of cranial nerve function including neuro-ophthalmological evaluation and audiological evaluation.
    • Computed tomographic (CT) scan or positron emission tomography (PET)-CT scan.
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to evaluate skull base invasion.
    • Hemogram.
    • Chemistry panel.
    • Epstein-Barr virus titers.

    Any clinical or laboratory suggestion of distant metastasis may prompt further evaluation of other sites. Careful dental and oral hygiene evaluation and therapy is particularly important prior to initiation of radiation treatment. MRI is often more helpful than CT scans in assessing skull base involvement and in defining the extent of abnormalities detected.[5,6,7]

    1 | 2
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    man holding lung xray
    What you need to know.
    stem cells
    How they work for blood cancers.
     
    woman wearing pink ribbon
    Separate fact from fiction.
    Colorectal cancer cells
    Symptoms, screening tests, and more.
     
    Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
    Blog
    what is your cancer risk
    HEALTH CHECK
     
    colorectal cancer treatment advances
    Video
    breast cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    prostate cancer overview
    SLIDESHOW
    lung cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    ovarian cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
    Actor Michael Douglas
    Article