The silent killer

When you have a stuffy nose, the first thing that comes to mind may be colds, or even Covid-19.

During the cold months, symptoms like this are easy to confuse with many circulating viruses, but experts have warned that they may actually be a sign of a silent killer.

In fact, nasal cancer, also known as nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC), can affect the nasopharynx. This is the upper part of the pharynx (throat) behind the nose.


Britain’s National Health Service says most people with cancer often only recognize these symptoms at an advanced stage of the disease.


Nasopharyngeal cancer is different from nasal or sinus cancer, a rare cancer that affects the space behind the nose and sinuses, small air-filled cavities inside the nose, cheek bones and forehead.


Experts said nasopharyngeal cancer may disguise in the form of a blocked nose, a feeling you experience when you try to spew what’s inside your nose into a napkin, but the feeling of the blockage doesn’t stop.


And if you’ve been experiencing this symptom for a few months, according to health experts this may be a major sign of nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC).


Otolaryngologist Dr Lim Kinghua explained that the cancer usually originates from a groove known as the Rosenmüller Pit, located on the side of the nasopharynx.


He explained that there are other signs associated with cancer that can be confused with infection.


Rhin cancer patients may also experience painless swelling on the side of the neck, as well as other symptoms such as ear blockage.


Other common symptoms include blood in saliva or sputum, nosebleeds or frequent headaches and ear pain.


Patients may also experience a change in hearing or double vision.


Who is most at risk ?

In a statement to CNA Lifestyle, Dr. Kinghua explained that certain genetic factors can make someone more susceptible to nasal cancer.


In general, men are two to three times more likely to develop nasopharyngeal cancer than females, he noted.


Women could be protected to some extent from nasopharyngeal cancer due to high estrogen levels, he said.


Some point out that men are more likely to develop the disease because of smoking, because the habit is more prevalent among men, while Dr. Kinghua believes that “there is no conclusive evidence of this.”


Having a family history of nasopharyngeal cancer is also another risk factor, he added.

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