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Nasopharyngeal Cancer

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The diagnosis of cancer in a patient is often accompanied by disbelief and feelings of helplessness. The feeling of helplessness may be partly due to a lack of knowledge and awareness of the many treatment options available.
This series of brochures will provide you information on common head and neck cancers, focusing on the following:

  • Common causes and symptoms
  • Investigations required
  • Treatment options available

For more information about the condition and treatment options, please consult a head and neck cancer specialist.

Cancer Patient Services

The Department of Otorhinolaryngology (Ear, Nose, Throat) in Tan Tock Seng Hospital offers the following services in relation to head and neck cancers:

  1. Diagnosis of the cancer
  2. Appropriate staging of the cancer
  3. Treatment – every cancer patient is discussed with a multi-disciplinary team to identify the most ideal evidence-based treatment
  4. Long-term follow up and monitoring to ensure the cancer does not return

Nasopharyngeal Cancer

Nasopharyngeal cancer, or nose cancer, is the most common head and neck cancer in Singapore. It is the 8th most common cancer in males in Singapore, accounting for 3.7% of all cancers in males from 2010 to 2014.1 (*Singapore Cancer Registry, Interim Annual Report 2015)
This cancer occurs at the back of the nose, just behind the opening that connects the nose to the ear.

Nasopharyngeal Cancer 1.png   

Main Causes

  • Long-term consumption of preserved food
  • Virus infection (Epstein Barr virus)
  • Family history of nasopharyngeal cancer

Common Symptoms

  • Blood-stained saliva
  • Lymph gland enlargement in the neck
  • Nose blockage
  • Decreased hearing

 Nasopharyngeal Cancer 2.png

Examination and Tests 

Your doctor will perform a nasoendoscopy procedure, where a fibreoptic camera is passed through your nose to obtain a view of nasopharynx.
Two types of investigations are required:

1. Biopsy of the back of the nose to determine the presence of cancer. This is done in the clinic.

2. Scans to determine the spread of the disease. Commonly-performed scans include:

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan of the nose and neck
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan to determine if the cancer has spread to the lungs, liver or bones


The treatment of nasopharyngeal cancer depends on the stage of disease:

  • Early stage: Radiotherapy only
  • Advanced stage: Chemoradiotherapy

Cancer Care Management

We work closely with other medical specialists and allied health professionals to ensure the most ideal outcomes for our patients.

 Nasopharyngeal Cancer 3.png

Our aim is the same as yours – to fight off the cancer and return you to an ideal quality of life.

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