Treatment for nasopharyngeal cancer

Your treatment depends on several factors. These include what type of nasopharyngeal cancer you have, how big it is, whether it has spread (the stage) and the grade. It also depends on your general health. 

The main treatments are radiotherapy, chemotherapy and chemoradiotherapy. You may also have treatment to reduce the symptoms and help you feel better. A team of doctors and other healthcare professionals discuss the best treatment and care for you.

Preparing for treatment and life afterwards (prehabilitation)

There are things you can do to help you feel more in control of your physical and mental health when preparing for treatment. In the hospital, preparing for treatment is also called prehabilitation or prehab.

Treatment options for nasopharyngeal cancer

Radiotherapy is one of the main treatments for nasopharyngeal cancer. The treatment you have depends on several things, including where the cancer is, its size, whether it has spread (the stage) and your general health.

Radiotherapy for nasopharyngeal cancer

Radiotherapy uses radiation, usually x-rays, to kill cancer cells. It is the main type of treatment for nasopharyngeal cancer.

Chemotherapy for nasopharyngeal cancer

Chemotherapy uses anti cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. The drugs go around your body in the bloodstream. You might have chemotherapy on its own or with radiotherapy.

Chemoradiotherapy for nasopharyngeal cancer

Chemotherapy combined with radiotherapy is called chemoradiotherapy. You might have it as a treatment for nasopharyngeal cancer. 

Surgery for nasopharyngeal cancer

Surgery is not a common treatment for nasopharyngeal cancer. You are more likely to have it for nasopharyngeal cancer that has come back (recurrent nasopharyngeal cancer).

Follow up for nasopharyngeal cancer

After treatment you have regular check ups to find out how you are getting on, any side effects you might have and to look for any signs of the cancer coming back. This is called follow up.

Research and clinical trials for nasopharyngeal cancer

Researchers are continually looking to improve testing for nasopharyngeal cancer, and find better treatments with fewer side effects. Find out about some of this research and how you can take part in a clinical trial.

Last reviewed: 
03 May 2024
Next review due: 
03 May 2027