Head cancers encompass many different types of tumours that affect the sensory organs, bones, brain and elements of the upper parts of both the digestive and respiratory systems. Near the centre of the head, there is a regional space termed thenasopharynx. Thisis a relatively large region with an epithelial lining that lies above the point of food entry into the pharynx.
Nasal cancer refers to tumours of the nose and nasal cavity, which extends deep into the space (nasal sinus) in the centre of the head. The nasopharynx is the space at the far back of the nasal cavity, where it connects with the upper reaches of the throat. Tumours may originate here, especially those triggered by airborne environmental factors.
Nose cancer is another term is often synonymous with nasopharyngeal cancer, however NPC originates at the back of the nasopharyngeal cavity, not in the exterior nose itself. One of the common symptoms of nose cancer is a feeling of blockage or stuffiness in the nose cavity. This is a common early symptom of NPC, along with bloody discharge from the nose and/or throat, headaches, or one-sided hearing loss.
Nasopharyngeal cancer is a cancer of the upper throat/ pharynx area. In some instances, NPC can spread downwards into the contiguous tissues of the uppermost regions of the throat. Generally however, nasopharyngeal tumours grow hidden from view, above the throat and behind the tissues of the soft palate.
While nasopharyngeal cancer starts in the space behind the nose, it can often spread(metastasize) to other parts of the body. The lymph nodes on the sides of the neck are a primary location for the spread of metastatic nasopharyngeal cancer cells. Unfortunately many patients frequently present with a swollen neck as their first symptom of nasopharyngeal cancer.
Carcinoma is a type of cancer that develops from epithelial cells. Nasopharyngeal carcinoma originates in the epithelial cells of the nasopharynx, the region of the head behind the uvula and above the throat. The tumour cells multiply and may begin to invade nearby tissues including bone, nerves and soft tissue supporting structures.