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Nasopharyngeal Cancer

Treatment

Treatment options for nasopharyngeal cancer include:

  • Surgery: Surgery is not usually the preferred treatment due to difficulty reaching the nasopharyngeal tumors. Surgery may be performed by removing the lymph nodes, placing the breathing tube and feeding tube, removing the small tumor limited to the nasopharynx, and removing the small tumor that occurs during recurrence. The surgery may be performed through nasopharyngectomy and lymph node dissection. Nasopharyngectomy is a surgical intervention involving removing a small tumor limited to the nasopharynx. It is also used to remove the remaining cancer cells after radiation therapy. Lymph node dissection surgery involves removing the lymph nodes suspected of having nasopharyngeal cancer metastasis.
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy is an effective treatment for managing nasopharyngeal cancer. Generally, radiation therapy is combined with chemotherapy to improve its efficacy of radiation therapy. Both therapies are given simultaneously. Radiation therapy is also recommended for relieving the symptoms of nasopharyngeal cancer as a part of palliative care.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy involves delivering drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs are administered either orally or through injection. Usually, a combination of chemotherapy drugs is used to kill the cancer cells at different phases of the cell cycle. Chemotherapy may also be used in combination with radiotherapy in advanced nasopharyngeal cancer. Further, chemotherapy may be recommended for relieving the symptoms of advanced nasopharyngeal cancer by shrinking the tumor in patients on palliative care.
  • Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is also known as biological therapy. It is used in advanced or recurrent nasopharyngeal cancer when the patients do not respond to other treatments. It strengthens the immune system or restores its ability to kill cancer cells. The therapy may be used with or without chemotherapy. The side effects of immunotherapy are generally different from chemotherapy.
  • Targeted therapy: Proteins are present in the cancer cells that assist them in growing, dividing, and spreading. Targeted therapy targets these proteins and prevents the proliferation and spread of cancer cells. Targeted therapy either kills or slows the growth of cancer cells. Certain targeted therapy drugs also boost the immune system.

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