Nasopharyngeal cancer is a rare cancer of the nasopharynx. It begins in the upper part of the throat just behind the nose, at the base of the skull and above the roof of the mouth. Its incidence is more common in Southeast Asia. Its causes are not clear. It cannot be detected easily. Its symptoms do not appear in the early stages. Its symptoms include swollen lymph node, bloody discharge from the nose, bloody saliva, hearing loss, and many more. It is potentially a life-threatening disease if not treated earlier. However, it can be cured completely with radiotherapy or chemotherapy or a combination of both.
What Leads To Nasopharyngeal Cancer?
Nasopharyngeal cancer is a rare cancer that develops in the nasopharynx. It is also known as nasopharyngeal carcinoma. The nasopharynx is the area that is present at the base of the skull and above the roof of the mouth. It is the upper part of the throat that starts from the nose and ends in the upper part of the pharynx. It is also known as nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC).(1)
Till today, it is not clear what leads to nasopharyngeal cancer. Some scientists relate them to certain diets, infections or genetic characteristics. In the past few years, research studies have shown that Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) may induce cancerous growth in the nasopharynx. But more research work is needed to prove this.(2)
It is noted that people who have caught EBV infection develop infectious mononucleosis complications. They get rid of the virus through their immune system without any complications in a short span of time. In rare cases, the fragments of DNA of EBV virus may get mixed with DNA of cells present in the nasopharynx resulting in abnormal multiplication of these cells. These cells divide and grow abnormally that may lead to nasopharyngeal cancer. However, it happens rarely.(2)
A diet that contains salted cured fish and meat accelerate the action of EBV leading to nasopharyngeal cancer. Certain studies also support the fact that preserved food increases the damage to DNA by releasing certain chemicals. It may lead to growth and replication of cells.(2)
According to some studies, genetic inheritance of certain tissue types may increase the risk of nasopharyngeal cancer in certain people. Some scientists have noted that these tissue types may impair the immune system resulting in EBV infection causing nasopharyngeal cancer.(2)
Males are more affected by nasopharyngeal cancer than females. Those who live in south China or Southeast Asia are more likely to develop nasopharyngeal cancer. Other risk factors involve smoking, high alcohol consumption, exposure to formaldehyde and family history of nasopharyngeal cancer.(1)
Can Nasopharyngeal Cancer Be Cured?
Nasopharyngeal cancer can be cured if it is detected and treated earlier. If it is not treated in time, it may cause fatal consequences. If you are cured with nasopharyngeal cancer, you may live a normal life. In the US, about 35 % of the population who are diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer cannot live more than 5 years if not treated earlier.(3)
Nasopharyngeal cancer can spread to other tissues beyond nasopharynx. It may spread to lymph nodes of the neck to other parts of the body. it is usually treated with chemotherapy or radiation therapy or combination of the both. Surgery is not preferred in nasopharyngeal cancer. It is done only when the cancer is spread to the lymph nodes of the neck. The side effects of radiotherapy include dry mouth. Dry mouth leads to difficulties while eating, swallowing or speaking and frequent infections. It also increases the chances of problems related to the teeth.(4)
NPC or nasopharyngeal cancer is rare cancer that develops in the nasopharynx. Its exact cause is not clear. According to research studies, EBV infection, salt-cured fish or meat, preserved food and others mentioned above can lead to nasopharyngeal cancer. It can be cured completely if it is diagnosed or treated in earlier stages.
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