ABOUT Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma
What is Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma?
It is cancer that develops in the nasopharynx, which is located behind the nasal cavity and sinuses. The incidence rate of this type of cancer has been increasing steadily over the last two decades.
1 in 500 cases is not neurosarcoma, meningioma, or ependymoma (these 3 types are more common). Other risk factors include smoking, chronic infection with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), family history, and past radiation treatment to the head or neck region.
The cure rate for this cancer is less than 50%. Surgery can be used to remove masses if they are found early on (<3 cm), but it does not always yield complete removal of tumor cells.
What are the Symptoms of Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma?
Nasopharyngeal carcinoma is a cancer of the nasopharynx region. The term nasopharyngeal carcinoma encompasses both lymphatic and non-lymphatic types. The non-lymphatic type is more common.
Symptoms include hoarseness, changes in voice quality (producing a sound similar to that of an old man), and pain in the neck. These symptoms usually develop several years after the initial cancer diagnosis.
They occur when the tumor becomes invades the lamina propria of the voice box. The head and neck surgeon or radiologist may determine that there is no evidence of cancer in the nasal cavity by CT scans or MRIs.
The diagnosis is based on clinical suspicion via history, physical examination, and diagnostic studies such as CT scans, biopsies, MRI scans, physical therapy tests, and electrophysiology examinations.
What are the Causes of Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma?
Carcinogenesis is the formation of cancer due to changes in tissue cells. This may be due to trauma or infection. These carcinogens may come from environmental factors such as tobacco smoke or asbestos.
They may occur due to certain "mistakes" in DNA replication or cell division, or they can be inherited as a familial cancer syndrome. There are many different types of carcinogens—some are viewed as potential risks, others as known risks, and still others as actual risks.
What is the prognosis of Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma?
According to Cancer Research UK, stage 1 tumors have an almost 100% survival rate when treated with surgery or radiation therapy. When cancer has spread to other sites in the body, it is less treatable.
The median survival rate for patients under the age of 15 is 22 months after diagnosis while the median survival time for patients over the age of 40 years old was six months after diagnosis.
What are the Treatment options for Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma?
Treatment options for nasopharyngeal carcinoma vary depending on patient age, condition of the tumor, and overall health. Treatment techniques may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and/or immunotherapy (removing T-cells that help fight cancer).
There are different treatment options for NPC. The typical treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and laser treatment.
Depending on the size and extent of the tumor, chemotherapy may be combined with radiation therapy. The use of immunotherapy for recurrent nasopharyngeal carcinoma patients is an active area of clinical research.
There are also clinical trials in China, including in Hong Kong Cancer Center. The medications used include Vincristine, Doxorubicin, Adriamycin, and cisplatin.
Frequently Asked Questions on NPC
What is the difference between Neoplasm and NPC?
· Neoplasm: any abnormal tissue that develops into or can grow into a type of cancer.
· NPC: non-epithelial cells originating from neoplasms.
What is the difference between Lymphatic malignancy and Epulis?
· Lymphatic malignancy: cancer that is located in the lymph nodes and/or spleen and spreads through lymph nodes and/or bloodstream (lymphatic metastasis) like typical carcinomas.
· Epulis: inflammation of the nasopharynx characterized by soreness, lumpiness, redness, and swelling of the cheek, especially after encountering painful stimuli such as rubbing head or eating hot foods.