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What Is Nasopharyngeal Cancer?

The nasopharynx is the space situated behind our nose and below the brain. It connects our nose to our windpipe. On its sidewall, a tube connects it to the ear.

Nasopharyngeal cancer starts in the cells lining the nasopharynx. A cancerous lump is formed which then invades out of the nasopharynx into the brain, ear and the jaw.  These cells can also invade the lymph channels and blood stream and spread to lymph glands and other distant organs such as the bones and liver. 


Nasopharyngeal cancer usually affects adults between 35 and 55 years of age and is 20 to 30 times more common in persons of Chinese (especially Cantonese) descent than in other races. It is more frequent in males than in females. If the cancer is detected early, it is curable.

In Singapore, it is the ninth most common cancer in men.*

* Source: Singapore Cancer Registry Annual Registry report, Trends in Cancer Incidence in Singapore 2015