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Nasopharyngeal Tumors


Nasopharyngeal tumors are growths that form in the nasopharynx, or the uppermost portion of the throat that is located behind the nasal cavity. The nasopharynx serves as a passageway for air from the nose to the throat and eventually to the lungs. A tumor in the nasopharynx can be either benign or malignant. Malignant nasopharyngeal tumors may spread to surrounding tissue and other parts of the body.


While the exact cause of nasopharyngeal tumors is unknown, certain people may be at an increased risk of developing this condition, including those who:

  • Smoke
  • Chew tobacco
  • Consume large amounts of alcohol
  • Have a personal or family history of head and neck cancer
  • Have had exposure to certain workplace chemicals
  • Lack fruits and vegetables in their diet


Symptoms of a nasopharyngeal tumor can include:

  • Pain
  • Persistent sore throat
  • Hoarseness in voice
  • Earache
  • Nosebleeds


If the nasopharyngeal tumor is benign, it will most often be removed endoscopically. Removing the tumor is recommended even when it is benign because many can grow to large sizes, causing obstructions and damaging surrounding structures. If cancer is present, it will typically be treated with a combination of chemotherapy or radiation therapy. However, surgery may also be necessary, particularly if the tumor is recurrent.

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