ENT Head & Neck Surgery Center

Rm 02, 5/F., Kai Seng Commerical Centre,
4-6 Hankow Road, TST Kln, HK
(near Kowloon Hotel)
Tel: (852) 3100 0555
Fax: (852) 3100 0556

Lawrence Chow / ENT Doctor

Nasopharyngeal Cancer: An Introduction to the Causes and Risk Factors

Nasopharyngeal cancer is a type of cancer that begins in cells in the nasopharynx. This is the area in the upper part of your throat and behind the nose. It is also known as NPC and is the most common type of head and neck cancer in Hong Kong. The cells will then start to grow into nearby lymph nodes in the rear of the mouth and continue to spread into other parts of the body.

Have you started to think about the causes of Nasopharyngeal cancer?

Have you asked yourself if there are risk factors for this disease?

Can Nasopharyngeal cancer be prevented?

If so, then read the following article.


Causes of Nasopharyngeal Cancer

Scientists are not sure what exactly causes nasopharyngeal cancer. However, the cancer has been strongly linked to the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).

Other risks are living or working in a region with an increased incidence of nasopharyngeal cancer, chronic sinusitis, prolonged exposure to nitrous oxide gas, and family history.


Risk Factors

The risk factors for nasopharyngeal cancer are not widely understood and very few studies have been done in this area. Consequently, we know that nasopharyngeal cancer is more common in rural areas and that it is associated with Epstein-Barr virus infection. The risk for nasopharyngeal cancer goes up if eating a diet rich in salt-cured fish and meat. It may also be associated with smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol although their link to the cancer is not clear. Some scientists believe that chemicals in these things further damage the DNA in cells.


Who is likely to get Nasopharyngeal cancer ?

  • those with nasopharyngeal cancer are men (about 80%) in general;
  • those who smoke or were exposed to second-hand smoke at a young age;
  • those who drink a lot of alcohol;
  • those with a family history of nasopharyngeal cancer;
  • those with a weakened immune system due to HIV/AIDS, or other diseases, or medical treatments such as chemotherapy or transplant;
  • those who have come in contact with EBV;
  • those exposed to certain chemicals, such as arsenic or phenol;
  • those who live in regions of China, Africa and South America.


Nasopharyngeal Cancer Symptoms

Symptoms of nasopharyngeal cancer may include:

  • Lump in neck
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Ear infections that recur
  • Face pain or numbness
  • Headache
  • Hearing loss, ringing in the ears, or a feeling of fullness in the ear
  • Difficulty opening mouth
  • Nosebleeds
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sore throat

As such symptoms are commonly found with many other diseases, it is suggested to see your ENT doctor for further diagnosis when you see the above symptoms.

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For details of our ENT services, diagnosis, and treatment, please consult our ENT specialist.



HK ENT Specialist Ltd.

Hong Kong based ENT clinic centre

For ENT Services, Audiology & Speech Therapy,

Sleep Disordered Breathing Management,

Hearing Aid Prescription & Medical Cosmetic Services


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