Treatment options

Following a diagnosis of nasopharyngeal cancer, your cancer care team will discuss the treatment options, including the possibility of participating in a clinical trial, that are suitable for you.  This is also a good time to consider if you would like a second opinion

The most suitable treatment for nasopharyngeal depends on many things including: 

  • size and location of the cancer

  •  whether the cancer has spread

  • personal factors (e.g. age, general health and treatment history)

  • types of treatment available (and whether there are any clinical trials are available) 

  • your preferences for treatment. 

Radiation therapy uses high-energy waves to destroy or damage cancer cells and is the main treatment for nasopharyngeal cancer. Chemotherapy uses medicines to destroy or damage cancer cells and is usually given during radiation therapy (concurrent chemoradiation) for advanced stage cancers to help the radiation therapy work better. Chemotherapy is sometimes given before chemoradiation (neoadjuvant chemotherapy) or after chemoradiation (adjuvant chemotherapy).

Surgery is sometimes used for cancers that are still there after chemoradiation. Surgery is used to remove lymph nodes (neck dissection) that have cancer cells after radiation treatment or to treat cancer in the nasopharynx that has come back after treatment with chemoradiation.