NPC stands for Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma. It is basically the most common form of cancer that arises from the back of the nose and it’s a silent killer. This is more common in Asian than in Western countries.
Over time, the tumour can grow, ulcerate and invade into nearby structures in your body, leading to nerve involvement. In its early stage, all these can occur without any symptoms. In the late stages, you might start to experience symptoms and these include:
- Block nose
- Double vision
- Neck lumps
- Nose bleed
- Blood stained saliva
- Loss of hearing
There are various risk factors that you should be aware of.
The first is Age and Gender.
Nose cancer is more common in males and there is also a bimodal age presentation where occurrences peaked twice; once when the individual is in early adulthood and the second later in life.
The second is the presence of an infectious virus.
Studies have shown that the presence of EBV (also known as the Epstein – Barr Virus) has a positive correlation with Nose Cancer. As such, EBV antibodies and DNA are often tested for by performing simple blood tests in screening for Nose cancer.
The third is a lifestyle.
It is believed that smoking contributes to the risk of Nose cancer caused by the reactivation of EBV. Even though there is currently inconclusive evidence of this co-relation, smoking itself does cause many other diseases!
Another issue with lifestyle relates to our dietary practice. Consuming preserved foods – such as salted fish contains high levels of preservatives which increases risks of Nose cancer.
The last is Genetic Susceptibility.
Individuals with first-degree relatives that have been diagnosed with Nose cancer are also at a higher risk of being diagnosed with Nose cancer. While this is beyond your control, you can reduce your risk by limiting your exposure and watching your lifestyle.
What should you do?
As a starting point, you should undergo a physical health examination. A look into yours and your family’s medical history may also be of assistance.
If you do have a positive family history, you may consider doing a simple blood test to screen for Nose cancer. Studies have shown that there is a higher survival rate when Nose cancer is detected early.
Undergoing a non-fasting blood test is a fuss-free process and the report will usually be available within 3-5 working days. The doctors will advise you accordingly based on the results of the blood test.