Nose Cancer

What is a Nose cancer ?

The area behind the nose is called nasopharynx (Figure 1). Cancer in this region is called nasopharyngeal carcinoma (often just called nose cancer). NPC is not so common in the West. It is more common in Southern China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia. In Singapore, NPC is the 8th most common cancer in men.


Risk factors for NPC include family history of NPC, dietary habit (consumption of preserved and salt-cured fish or meat) and Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) infection. Due to the location of the tumour, majority of the time, patients with early NPC may not have any symptoms. The most common symptom of NPC is a lump in the neck (when the cancer has spread to the lymph node in the neck). Other symptoms include blocked ear (due to fluid collecting in the middle ear – Figure 2), blood-stained nasal discharge or saliva and blocked nose.


Assessment of a patient suspected of NPC includes a clinical history, physical examination and nasoendoscopy. If a growth or mass is found in the nasopharynx (Figure 3), a biopsy (removal of a small sample of tissue for analysis) is performed. If NPC is confirmed, staging investigations (scans of the neck and other parts of the body) will be required to determine the extent of the disease. NPC is treated by radiotherapy with or without chemotherapy, depending on the stage of the disease. An oncologist (a doctor specializing in giving radiation therapy or chemotherapy) will plan the treatment for patients with NPC. Surgery is usually reserved for recurrent cases of NPC.

Nose Cancer

When Should You See an ENT Specialist in Singapore?

  • Any ear, nose or throat symptoms that you are troubled with or concerned about
  • Persistent blocked nose with mouth breathing or snoring

Dr Gan provides a comprehensive management in a broad array of Ear, Nose and Throat as well as Head & Neck conditions. He has a special interest in treating various nose and sinus conditions including snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)

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