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Treatment for nasopharyngeal cancer depends on the cancer’s stage and your general health. Your care team evaluates your situation and presents different treatment options so you can make an informed decision.
What We Offer for Nasopharyngeal Cancer
Specialized expertise in treating all types and stages of nasopharyngeal cancers.
Advanced treatment options, including radiation therapy, cancer medications, surgery, or a combination of these methods.
A team of highly skilled doctors, including head and neck surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, and ENTs working together to deliver targeted treatment.
Clinical trials that provide early access to groundbreaking therapies that aren’t available at other cancer centers.
The Stanford Medicine Online Second Opinion program offers you easy access to our world-class doctors. It’s all done remotely, and you don’t have to visit our hospital or one of our clinics for this service. You don’t even need to leave home!
Your treatment for nasopharyngeal cancer depends on the tumor’s size, how fast it’s growing, and your overall health. You and your doctors determine the plan that’s best for you, which may include one or more of the following:
Nasopharyngeal carcinoma is highly responsive to radiation therapy and many types of chemotherapy. Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to destroy or shrink nasopharynx cancer cells. Our radiation oncologists aim radiation beams directly at tumors, treating them while avoiding damage to nearby healthy tissues.
External radiation (external beam therapy) uses machines outside the body. Types of external radiation therapy for nasopharyngeal cancer include:
3D conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT): Using 3D pictures, a radiation oncologist aims radiation beams from different angles to match treatment to the tumor’s size and shape.
Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT): This therapy lets doctors to change the radiation amount from each beam for customized treatment.
With internal radiation (brachytherapy), your doctor surgically implants small, radioactive rods or pellets in or near the cancerous tumor. The implants stay in place for several days while you stay in the hospital. Doctors use this treatment method most often for recurrent (returning) nasopharyngeal cancer.
Our care team may also recommend chemoradiation to treat nasopharyngeal cancer. This is a combination of chemotherapy medications and radiation treatments. Chemotherapy drugs can make cancer cells more sensitive to radiation. Taking these medications while receiving radiation can make radiation treatments more effective.
Drugs that you take by mouth, injection, or infusion could be a part of your treatment plan. Your medical team may use these treatments alone or with other therapies.
Our cancer doctors use a wide range of cancer medications, including:
Chemotherapy: These medications slow or stop cancer cells from growing. Doctors may use chemoradiation, a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.
Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy medications instruct your immune system to fight cancer cells.
Targeted therapy: These drugs act like naturally occurring substances in the body that hinder cancer cell growth or health.
Doctors usually recommend radiation and chemotherapy to treat nasopharyngeal cancer because they’re effective, and the nasopharynx is difficult to reach through surgery. However, if any cancer remains or returns after these treatments, our head and neck surgeons are leaders in breakthrough surgical techniques to remove it.
In addition to surgical techniques, our surgeons have specialized expertise in minimally invasive endoscopic procedures to treat recurrent nasopharyngeal cancer. Using no incisions to reach the tumor, doctors insert an endoscope through the nose to see and remove it.
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest advanced clinical trials through the Stanford Cancer Institute.
Open trials refer to studies that are currently recruiting participants or that may recruit participants soon. Closed trials are not currently enrolling additional patients.
Make An Appointment
To request an appointment with a specialist, call 650-498-6000