Nasopharyngeal Cancer Symptoms
As it is the case of most cancers, nasopharyngeal cancer(nasal cancer and pharyngeal cancer) tends to grow silently; warning signs seem to be quite innocuouswhich makes early detection difficult. However, as the tumor develops, nasopharyngeal cancer symptoms tend to include the following:
- Loss or decrease of smell
- Stuffy nose, especially on one side,
- Presence of mucus and flow in the throat,
- Pain in the nose, eyes, forehead,
- Trouble breathing or speaking normally
- Trouble hearing associated with ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
- Cold or a runny nose, often associated with nasal obstruction
- Moving of the Incisors, narrow-edged tooth at the front of the mouth.
It does not mean a patient will all of these symptoms above. In addition, the gravity of the symptoms differs from patients to patients, depending on the health status of the patient. Environment can also worsen nasopharyngeal cancersymptoms.
Nasopharyngeal Cancer Diagnosis
After clinical examination (palpation on the face to lookfor swelling, mass…) and a dialogue with the patient to give the doctor a better idea on the symptoms, some tests maybe recommended to confirm or rule out the diagnosis of the cancer. Common diagnostic procedures involved in nasopharyngeal cancer diagnosis include:
- Nasal endoscopy
- Magnetic resonance imaging(MRI)
- Radiography of the face and neck
- Blood analysis such as complete blood count (CBC)
Head and neck CT scans to assess the spread of the lymph nodes and surrounding tissue.
Based on the results obtained, a biopsy can be performed to remove a small tissue or group of cells for examination under a microscope in order to determine their nature (cancerous or benign) and to identify the nature of the tumor.
Nasopharyngeal Cancer Treatment
Treatment of nasal cancer and pharyngeal cancer is mostly based on the stage of the tumor. In general, nasopharyngeal cancer treatment includes many options: Surgery, usually the standard treatment; external or internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy), chemotherapy, used in combination with other therapies when the cancer is advanced; and sometimes targeted therapy. Regardless, the oncologist along with the health care team can decide to administer these therapies alone or in combination.
Usually, nasopharyngeal cancer treatment isdetermined based on the nature of the tumor, its location, its characteristics (stage, severity of the symptoms…), and the patient’s general condition. The decision can require a multidisciplinary committee which will establish the patient’s care program. The team can include different specialists: oncologists, radiologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, hospital pharmacists.
Side Effects and Complications of the Treatment
Radiation to the head can cause skin burnt, permanent or prolonged dry mouth and other serious problem. The Chemotherapy can cause a variety of adverse effects (please see chemotherapy side effects for more information). In addition, during nasopharyngeal cancer treatment patients are at risk of venous thrombosis, and major complications such as pulmonary embolism, blockage of one or more pulmonary arteries in the lungs.