Nasopharyngeal cancer is a rare type of cancer that affects the cells of the nasopharynx. In a nutshell, it is a type of cancer that impacts the head and neck. The symptoms are generally noticed in the upper part of your nose and back of the throat which is nasopharynx.
Nasopharyngeal cancer also called nasopharyngeal carcinoma is a rare disease in North America however it is majorly noticed in many parts of Southern China, South East Asia and around the world. This type of carcinoma is not often noticed in the early stages of the disease. One of the primary reasons for this is probably the nasopharynx is not easy to test and the symptoms of these conditions are very similar to many common conditions.
Is Nasopharyngeal Cancer Hereditary?
Although clinical studies do not have any strong pieces of evidence for the cause of Nasopharyngeal cancer yet, this type of cancer is strongly associated with the Epstein-Barr virus. In addition, there are many factors that include age, hereditary, lifestyle and other environmental factors. Researches show that compared to female, male participants have a long-term risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma due to cigarette smoking. (1) (2)
Studies suggested that Nasopharyngeal cancer is inherited through generations. Family members of people with nasopharyngeal cancer have a higher risk of inheriting this disease. Several studies showed that nasopharyngeal carcinoma was significantly higher in the first degree relatives than in the general community. In a nutshell, when people migrate from the high-risk area to other parts of the world where nasopharyngeal cancer risk is less common, then the inherited risk becomes considerably lower.
A medical study was conducted to distinguish the difference in patients between family cohort and community cohort. Studies revealed that the hazard ratio 6.8% times higher with the family cohort than the community group. The findings suggest that family history and the impact of Epstein-Barr virus are crucial determinants of nasopharyngeal carcinoma risk. There are also other co-factors for this conditional such as salted fish consumption in early stages of life, long-term habits to cigarette smoking or smoking cigarettes filled with tobaccos, genetic reasons and working in an environment that are prone to pollution.
Can Nasopharyngeal Cancer Be Painful?
Nasopharyngeal cancer is not painful unlike other types of cancer. It develops a painless lump around the neck. The lumps are non-tender and not painful. But severe condition produces pain or fullness in one ear and also facial pain & numbness.
Let us discuss other factors that are associated with developing nasopharyngeal cancer
Gender – Men are 2 times more likely to develop nasopharyngeal cancer disease than women. Native Bidayuh, Malaysia has been shown to have the highest occurrence in the globe.
Living Conditions – The highest incidence of nasopharyngeal cancer in the world are in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Southern parts of China and South-east Asia. In northern countries, Inuit are the most commonly affected by this cancer. Basically, in South East Asia, there is a higher consumption of salted-cured fish and meat. In fact, this is one of the major reasons for developing nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Over time, the risks go down in the newer generation. Although whites born in North America have a lower risk of this type of cancer, yet whites born in Southern China or Hong Kong have higher risks of this disease.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) – Since its discovery, EPV is strongly linked with the development of nasopharyngeal cancer. Scientists have studied how EPV in the nasopharynx makes the cells turn cancerous. Eating food high in salt content enhances the ability of EBV to develop nasopharyngeal cancer. Researches show that preserved food produces chemicals that have the potential to damage the DNA cells. This, in turn, affects DNA growth and multiplication. This is due to the involvement of the EP virus. (1) (2)
Many cases of nasopharyngeal carcinoma are not preventable however healthy eating habits and better lifestyle lower the risks of developing nasopharyngeal cancer.
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