When cancer cells form in the tissues of the nasopharynx (located in the upper part of the throat behind the nose), the condition is referred to as nasopharyngeal cancer. It is a type of head and neck cancer.
Among the signs of nasopharyngeal cancer include difficulties with hearing, talking, and breathing. The risk factors for the condition include having Asian ancestry, being exposed to the Epstein-Barr virus, and high consumption of alcohol. Doctors have to examine the nose, throat, and nearby organs to diagnose the disease and to determine its current stage.
Radiation therapy is one of the 3 standard treatment options for nasopharyngeal cancer. The other options are chemotherapy and surgery. In some cases, doctors may give chemotherapy after using radiation therapy, to kill off any remaining cancer cells.
There are 2 types of radiation therapy: external and internal.
External Radiation Therapy
In external radiation therapy, the doctors send radiation towards the cancer cells to kill them off, using a machine outside the body. It’s possible that external radiation therapy may change the way the thyroid gland works, if the therapy is applied to the pituitary gland or the thyroid. After the therapy, doctors can check that the thyroid gland is functioning properly. Before and after the therapy, the doctors can give a blood test to determine the thyroid hormone level in the patient’s blood. Some particular ways of providing radiation therapy can also target the cancer cells without doing damage to the adjacent healthy tissue. These include stereotactic radiation therapy and intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).
Stereotactic Radiation Therapy
This may also be called stereotactic external-beam radiation therapy and stereotaxic radiation therapy.
The doctors attach a rigid head frame to the patient’s skull, to prevent the head from moving during the treatment. They then use a machine to aim the high-energy radiation straight to the tumor.
The total dose of the radiation isn’t given all at once. Instead, the radiation dose is divided into smaller doses, and they’re given over several days.
Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
This is a type of 3D radiation therapy. It uses a computer to create images of the shape and size of the tumor. Thin streams of radiation with varying strengths (intensities) are directed at the tumor, coming from many different angles. One of the benefits of IMRT is that it’s less likely to cause dry mouth in the patient.
Internal Radiation Therapy
This method involves applying the radiation directly into the cancer, or at least near the cancer. In general, the doctors use catheters wires, needles, and even seeds, to seal in deliver the radioactive substance to the cancer cells.
If you wonder if you suffer from nasopharyngeal cancer, it is suggested to consult an ENT Specialist for the appropriate ENT services as soon as possible. HK ENT Specialist Ltd. is a professional Hong Kong based ENT clinic centre to offer ENT Services. Please contact us for an appointment at 3100 0555.
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