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A rare type of head & neck cancer with low incidence rates in India, nasopharyngeal cancer originates in the nasopharynx, the upper part of the throat that lies at the skull base. The malignancy is not easy to diagnose as it is quite difficult to examine the area and the symptoms are similar to other, comparatively less serious conditions.
Most people with nasopharyngeal cancer do not experience any symptom initially and these develop gradually as the cancer progresses. Some common symptoms associated with nasopharyngeal cancer include:
Nasopharyngeal cancer is a result of genetic mutations that cause the otherwise normal cells to divide and grow uncontrollably, and invade the nearby organs and structures. Though it is not known what exactly causes these mutations, there are certain factors that are known to elevate the risks of the same.
Surgery – Surgery is a less common treatment option that usually aims at removing the affected lymph nodes or extracting the tumours. This is done by making a tiny incision in the roof of the mouth to access the nasopharynx and remove the cancerous mass
Radiation therapy – It uses high energy radiations or protons to kill and target the cancer cells. Doctors usually resort to external beam radiation, which involves the use of a special machine for directing the radiations, without actually invading the patient’s body. Radiation therapy can effectively help to treat smaller tumours and may be combined with chemotherapy to address the larger ones.
Chemotherapy – It uses special drugs, that are given orally or intravenously, to target rapidly-growing cancerous cells. The therapy can be given in 3 ways, depending upon the specific needs and requirements of the patients.