What is Nasopharyngeal Cancer Treatment?

Dr Foram Bhuta

Dr Foram Bhuta

BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery), 10 years of experience

October 18, 2021 Cancer Hub 323 Views

English हिन्दी Bengali

What is the meaning of Nasopharyngeal Cancer Treatment?

Treatment modalities such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and chemoradiation which are used for the treatment of head and neck cancer are known as nasopharyngeal cancer treatments. Nasopharyngeal Cancer is cancer affecting the tissue connecting the back of the nose to the back of the mouth. This area is known as the nasopharynx. It is located at the base of the skull, just above the roof of the mouth. When one breathes in air, the air flows through the nose, the nasopharynx, and into the throat before reaching the lungs.  Nasopharyngeal cancer occurs when the cells in the nasopharyngeal area begin growing out of control. Nasopharyngeal Cancer can occur at any age, and can even affect children. In today’s article, we will be discussing in detail about nasopharyngeal cancer and nasopharyngeal cancer treatment.

  • What are the causes of Nasopharyngeal Cancer?
  • What are the risk factors for Nasopharyngeal Cancer?
  • What are the symptoms of Nasopharyngeal Cancer?
  • How to diagnose Nasopharyngeal Cancer?
  • What are the different Nasopharyngeal Cancer Treatments?
  • What are the complications of Nasopharyngeal Cancer Treatments?
  • How to prevent Nasopharyngeal Cancer?
  • What is the cost of Nasopharyngeal Cancer Treatment in India?

What are the causes of Nasopharyngeal Cancer?

  • The exact cause of nasopharyngeal cancer is known. 
  • However, it is thought to occur when one or more genetic changes (mutations) lead the normal cells to grow out of control and cause invasion of the surrounding structures. 
  • The cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body. This is known as metastasis.
  • This process begins in the squamous cells that line the nasopharynx surface.

What are the risk factors for Nasopharyngeal Cancer?

Certain factors increase the risk of developing nasopharyngeal cancer. These factors include:

  • More common in men
  • Can occur at any age, but is more common between 30 to 50 years of age
  • More common in people living in Southeast Asia, North Africa, and South China. Also seen in Asian immigrants who move to the United States of America
  • Family history of nasopharyngeal cancer
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Consumption of salt-cured foods like fish and preserved vegetables
  • Epstein-Barr virus (a common viral infection that usually has mild signs and symptoms like cold) ( Know more about- What is Herpes Virus? Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, Home remedies)

What are the symptoms of Nasopharyngeal Cancer?

Nasopharyngeal cancer does not have any symptoms in the early stages. The following symptoms may be seen later on:

  • A lump in the neck due to a swollen lymph node
  • Blood in the saliva
  • Blood discharge from the nose
  • Loss of hearing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Sore throat ( Know more about- What are Thyroid Disorders? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatments )
  • Frequent infections in the ear
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty in the opening of the mouth
  • Facial numbness
  • Facial pain
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Difficulty in speaking

How to diagnose Nasopharyngeal Cancer?

  • Physical examination: The doctor will first physically examine the patient, and ask the patient about his/her medical history and family history. The nasopharynx will be examined by the doctor along with the head, neck, nose, mouth, throat, facial muscles, and lymph nodes. The doctor may also do a hearing test.
  • Biopsy: A small sample of the tissue growth is excised from the area by the doctor and sent to the laboratory to check for the presence of cancer cells. ( Know more about- What is Throat Cancer? Causes, Symptoms, Diagnose, Treatments, Cost )
  • CT scan: A computed tomography (CT) scan is an imaging test done by using radio waves to obtain clear images of the internal organs of the body. This helps in checking for the presence of cancer cells, and also gives information about the shape, size, and location of the tumor.
  • MRI scan: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is done using magnets, radio waves, and a computer to create images of the internal organs of the body.
  • PET scan: Positron emission tomography (PET) scans are taken after the insertion of the radioactive sugar into the blood. The cancer cells are growing rapidly and they absorb a lot of sugar. Therefore, the cancer cells become temporarily radioactive and are visible on the PET scan. This scan helps in determining if cancer cells have spread to the lymph nodes.
  • Chest x-ray: If the doctor has confirmed the diagnosis of nasopharyngeal cancer, a chest x-ray helps in determining if cancer has spread to the lung’s region.
  • Epstein-Barr virus DNA levels test: This test measures the level of Epstein-Barr virus DNA in the blood.

What are the different Nasopharyngeal Cancer Treatments?

The treatment of nasopharyngeal cancer depends on the stage of cancer and the overall health of the patient. The various treatment options for nasopharyngeal cancer include:

  • Radiation therapy:
    • Radiation therapy makes use of high-energy X-rays to slow the growth of or kill the cancer cells.
    • Nasopharyngeal Cancer is sensitive to radiation, and therefore this form of treatment is used often for curing nasopharyngeal cancer.
  • Chemotherapy:
    • This form of treatment involves giving medications given either orally or intravenously (into the vein) to treat nasopharyngeal cancer.
    • Since chemotherapy drugs travel through the bloodstream, it is particularly useful in cancers that have spread to the other parts of the body.
  • Chemoradiation:
    • Several cases of nasopharyngeal cancer are treated using a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
    • This helps in making the effects of radiation therapy stronger, but it has many side effects.
  • Surgery:
    • In a few cases, the tumor can be removed surgically.
    • Since the nasopharynx area is difficult to access, surgery is rarely preferred as a treatment option.
    • However, surgery can sometimes be done to remove the lymph nodes in the neck that have not responded to other forms of treatment.
  • Targeted drug therapy:
    • Certain drugs target only specific characteristics of the cancer cells. These drugs are used for targeted drug therapy.
    • Cetuximab (a synthetic version of an immune system protein) injections are commonly used for treating nasopharyngeal cancer.
    • Targeted drug therapy is usually used in combination with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
  • Immunotherapy:
    • This is a form of treatment done to boost the immune system (disease-fighting system of the body) for detecting and fighting cancer cells.

 

What are the complications of Nasopharyngeal Cancer Treatments?

The complications associated with different types of nasopharyngeal cancer treatment include:

  • Radiation therapy:
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Skin irritation or redness
  • Chronic (long-term) dry mouth
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Pain in the bone
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Tooth decay
  • Loss of hearing
  • Change in taste of food

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  • Immunotherapy:
    • Flu-like symptoms
    • Redness of the skin
    • Headaches
    • Muscle aches
    • Diarrhea
    • Shortness of breath
    • Congestion of the sinus
    • Swelling of the legs
    • Hormonal changes
    • Cough

If one has any of the above side effects post nasopharyngeal cancer treatment he/ she should contact the doctor.

How to prevent Nasopharyngeal Cancer?

Nasopharyngeal cancer cannot be prevented as such, but the following tips decrease the risk of developing nasopharyngeal cancer:

What is the cost of Nasopharyngeal Cancer Treatment in India?

The total cost of nasopharyngeal cancer treatment in India can range from around INR 40,000 to INR 3,00,000. However, the cost of the procedure may vary across different hospitals. There are many big hospitals and specialized doctors in India for nasopharyngeal cancer treatment. The cost varies across different hospitals. 

If you are coming from abroad, in addition to the expenses of nasopharyngeal cancer treatment, there will be a cost of staying in a hotel, cost of living, and cost of local travel. Apart from this, after the procedure, the patient is kept in hospital for 5 days and in the hotel for 15 days for recovery. So, the total cost of nasopharyngeal cancer treatment in India is around INR 55,000 to INR 4,00,000. 

We hope that we were able to answer all your questions regarding nasopharyngeal cancer and nasopharyngeal cancer treatment through this article.

If you want more information and treatment for nasopharyngeal cancer, you can contact the Oncologist.

We only aim to give you information through the article and do not recommend medication or treatment in any way. Only a doctor can give you the best advice and correct treatment plan.

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