The recovery period of nasopharyngeal cancer can be a long journey depending on the outcome of the treatment administered. Basically, the treatment for cancer can involve radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of both. In other cases, surgery may be required to remove the tumor on the nasopharyngeal, which is located on the back of the throat connecting to the nose. Follow up care during the recovery period is essential as it helps keep track of one’s progress. This is usually based on looking out for the recurrence of cancer, side effects, and monitoring of your overall health. Follow-Up care will involve various activities including physical examination and medical tests, which provide conclusive results on your progress.[1]

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How Long Will It Take To Recover From Nasopharyngeal Cancer?

The recovery period can run for weeks or even months. The key determinant of your recovery period is the response to the treatment and management of the symptoms of nasopharyngeal cancer. Early stages of cancer can be cured fast, meaning the recovery period is shorter compared to more advanced stages which may require rigorous treatment over a long period of time. In cases of radiotherapy treatment, depending on the approach, the recovery period will vary as per the treatment sessions.

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For example, external radiotherapy will require short sessions on a daily basis, exclusive of weekends, which will run for about seven weeks. On the other hand, internal radiotherapy can be carried out for a few minutes or even days depending on the extent of the tumor. Whichever form of radiotherapy is used, you may be required to stay in the hospital for a little while longer. For chemotherapy, it is administered intravenously with sessions being after every three or four weeks. These sessions are further spread out over several months until the treatment phase is over.[2] Recovery from surgery for nasopharyngeal cancer will take about two weeks, where the patient feeds on liquefied foods via a tube.[3]

How Long Do The Symptoms Last?

Some patients do not exhibit symptoms of nasopharyngeal cancer early enough, which means early diagnosis and prognosis cannot be achieved. As a matter of fact, the symptoms may start to show when cancer has already advanced and not much can be done. In addition to that, symptoms of nasopharyngeal cancer are similar to other less severe conditions, meaning it is probably one can ignore the condition thinking it is nothing serious. Anyways, the symptoms of nasopharyngeal cancer include;

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  • A lump in the neck
  • Persistent headaches
  • Tinnitus (hearing sounds from inside the body instead of from an outside source)
  • A stuffy or blocked nose
  • Loss of hearing in one ear
  • Nosebleeds
  • Facial pain[2] [3]

These symptoms can be temporary whereas others can be permanent. In cases of permanent symptoms, they can last a lifetime and one would need to manage them medically so as to lead a better life.

Post Treatment Possible Symptoms

Every kind of treatment plan for nasopharyngeal cancer has its own side effects. Just like the symptoms of cancer itself, side effects of treatment can last for only a short period of time or be permanent. In radiation therapy, the possible side effects include; reddening or blistering of the skin, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, hoarseness, loss of taste, and sores in the mouth and throat.[4] Cancers can recur even after effective treatment has gotten rid of the cancerous cells. For nasopharyngeal cancer, recurrence usually occurs within the first two or three years after treatment. So, the recovery period for nasopharyngeal cancer can be an endless one with follow-ups on cancer relapse, symptomatic effects including those of treatment, as well as overall health monitoring.[1]

Conclusion

The length of the recovery period can be described as a variable that is dependent on the patient’s response to treatment through follow-up care. There are those who will have a short recovery period while others will have a long one. At the end of the day what is most important is managing the side effects of cancer as well as the treatment, and helping the patient lead a good life. Symptoms of nasopharyngeal cancer can be short-term or long-term. In either case, they need to be managed and monitored to ensure the patient does not experience discomforts.

References:  

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: June 24, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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