Understanding Nasopharyngeal Cancer- Causes, Symptoms& Early Detection

Understanding Nasopharyngeal Cancer- Causes, Symptoms& Early Detection

We have experienced astounding scientific discoveries in recent years. But, most people still die from deadly diseases stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer. There are different types of cancer, and some are rare as less popular. A perfect example is Nasopharyngeal Cancer; it’s quite rare and claims one person in about 100, 000 people in the US yearly. However, it’s common in South Asia, Middle East, and North Africa. 

There are various risk factors, causes, and symptoms of nasopharyngeal cancer. Early detection can go a long way in its management, and Take2 Health screening ensures a trouble-free nose. This then improves the chances of curing nasopharyngeal cancer. Want to learn more about this type of cancer?

Let’s begin by understanding what nasopharyngeal cancer is and its symptoms.

Nasopharyngeal cancer is a rare type of cancer that affects the neck and the head. It usually starts at the nasopharynx, behind the nose, or near the base of the skull. Nasopharyngeal cancer exhibits various symptoms. 

It usually starts as a lump in the neck’s upper part and may show signs like persistent headache, swelling of the neck, and nasal congestion. Other symptoms include facial swelling, nosebleeding, hearing changes, frequent ear infections, and ringing in the ears. 

In some people, nasopharyngeal cancer doesn’t present any symptoms until during the last stages. However, Take2 Health professionals perform multiple examinations and tests to identify any tumors that may suggest nasopharyngeal cancer in its early stages.

What causes Nasopharyngeal cancer& What are the risk factors?

There’s no known cause of Nasopharyngeal cancer. However, it’s common in people 50 to 60 years of age and affects more men than women. There are many risk factors o developing this type of cancer, and diet has a role to play. For instance, you have a higher likelihood of developing Nasopharyngeal cancer when your diet consists of very high salt, cured fish, and meats.

Other risk factors include;

  • Being of South Chinese or North African origin
  • Exposure to the Epstein-Barr virus
  • Constant exposure to hardwood dust
  • Having a close relative who had the condition

Diagnosis-Examination& Tests

When you visit the doctor with the signs of nasopharyngeal cancer with symptoms of a stuffy nose or lump in the neck, the physician will perform a physical examination or sent you to a nose and ear specialist. It’s difficult to diagnose this type of cancer, and not all physicians have specialized equipment or training to perform a thorough exam.

 Nonetheless, the doctor will examine your throat, ears, and mouth using a small lighted mirror to examine your nasopharynx. They may also use a thin, flexible tube to check the back of your nose closely. In some cases, the doctor may use local anesthesia spray to numb parts of your nose and throat. If the health professional suspects a tumor, they will take a biopsy and take it for further investigation.

What are the different exams of the nasopharynx?

The nasopharynx isn’t easily spotted since it’s located deep inside your head. The doctor then requires special techniques and tools for accurate examination. The exams conducted check for abnormal growths, bleeding, and any other sign of the condition. If the tumor begins under the nasopharynx lining, the doctor may no spot it. And other tests may be necessary. These are, for instance, imaging tests and MRI scans. 

Other necessary tests may also include;

1. Biopsy

Biopsy is a standard method used by doctors to diagnose most types of cancer. During the procedure, the doctor removes a tiny amount of tissues from the suspected area and examines it under a microscope. There are different types of biopsies. This may be performed depending on the exact location of the abnormal area.

These include;

  • The endoscopic biopsy
  • Fine needle aspiration biopsy

2. Imaging tests

Imaging tests involve the use of x-rays, sound waves, magnetic fields, and radioactive particles. These are images of your inner body parts and are done for a variety of reasons. They are commonly used to detect suspicious threats like cancer and help ascertain the extent of cancer spread. They are also handy in determining whether treatment is working.

3. Chest X-Rays

After being diagnosed with Nasopharyngeal cancer, the doctor will perform a chest X-ray to determine if cancer has spread to your lungs. However, this is rare unless you’re in an advanced stage of Nasopharyngeal cancer.

3. MRI scans

MRI scans take more precise images of your body’s soft tissues that may be difficult to see when using other imaging tests. Such scans are excellent in identifying some cancers and spinal or cord tumors. With an MRI scan, the doctor will easily tell if your tumor is cancerous or not. Unlike CT scans, MRI tests use radio waves and strong magnets. Also, gadolinium is usually injected into your vein before the test to ensure more accurate results.

4. CT scan

The test is a type of X-ray that gives detailed cross-sectional images of your internal organs. A CT scan on your head and neck can provide information on the tumor’s shape, size, and position. It can also locate enlarged lymph nodes that may be cancerous. Both CT scans and MRI tests are valuable in checking the possibility of cancer in the bones at the skull base, which is a familiar spot for the growth of nasopharyngeal cancer.

5. Blood tests

Blood tests are common in cancer diagnosis and treatment. For instance, npc cancer blood test hong kong determines whether cancer has spread to other body parts. The test may also be used to gauge your health level. Still, it’s useful in diagnosing nutrition deficiency issues, anemia, or liver and kidney disease. If blood tests show the possibility of cancer in parts of your body, you’ll have to undergo more tests.

6. PET scans

Your doctor may perform a PET test to check if cancer has spread to your lymph nodes. It also gives an idea of any abnormal areas on your chest and if this may be cancer. The test uses radioactive sugar, which is put into your blood. And this is because cancer cells absorb a lot of sugar in your blood as they multiply. 

In summary

Nasopharyngeal cancer presents various signs and symptoms, and doctors use different tests to identify cancerous tumors. These may include CT scans, Chest x-rays, MRI scans, blood tests, and more. All these require specialized equipment, and it’s advisable to get the tests from renowned clinics and experienced doctors.

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