Health Information

How Nasopharyngeal Cancer develops?

According to the Hong Kong cancer statistics of the center for cancer, one in four male in Hong Kong people will develop cancer while one in five female, will have. There are about 25000 new cases of cancer in Hong Kong very year. Nasopharyngeal carcinoma ranked seventh of the top ten killer disease . Every year there are more than one thousands of new nasopharyngeal carcinoma cases, who only aged 40 to 50 years old.  Man have double higher risk to have Nasopharyngeal carcinoma  than women.

As nasopharyngeal locates in the middle of the head behind the nasal area, as well as early symptoms of nasopharyngeal carcinoma are not obvious,  most of the patients do not be aware of the disease.  Only when they have got the lymph node in head or neck, they would see the doctor. Unfortunately, it usually develops to middle or late stage by that time.


Three Main Causes of Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma (NPC)

  • Inherited characteristics
  • Infection by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
  • Certain environmental factors

Inherited Characteristics

According to the world health organization, 80% worldwide incidence of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) accur  in China. It is most common in Guangdong province and other southern area.  Therefore, the nasopharyngeal carcinoma is also called the "Guangdong cancer". Heredity is the largest influence factor of nasopharyngeal carcinoma. If someone suffering from nasopharyngeal carcinoma, his/her family members have got higher risk of the disease. People of south China have a higher risk of NPC if they move to another area that has lower rates of NPC (like the US or Japan) than people who are native to areas with lower risk. 

The family members of nasopharyngeal carcinoma patients are suggested to have body check with nasopharyngeal carcinoma periodically. Early detection and early therapy lead to much more higher opportunites to cure. 


Epstein-Barr virus infection

Many studies have shown that the EB virus infection is closely related to the occurrence of nasopharyngeal carcinoma.  Patients with NPC have evidences of EB virus infection. However, it is still unknown whether EB virus contribute to the development of nasopharyngeal carcinoma. 


Environmental factors

Environmental factors also contribute to nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). Animal experiments indicated that the nickel can increase the nitrosamines which induce nasopharyngeal carcinoma. The nickel in the hair of patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is higher than normal's. Workplace exposure to formaldehyde may increase the risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Reports claimed that salted fish and pickled food are high-risk factors. If  children who eat a lot of salted fish would get a higher risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). Therefore, lifestyle and eating habits are related to nasopharyngeal carcinoma.