Nasopharyngeal carcinomas: an update

Eur J Cancer. 2003 Oct;39(15):2121-35. doi: 10.1016/s0959-8049(03)00367-8.


Among the group of head and neck cancers, nasopharyngeal carcinomas (NPC) represent a distinct entity in terms of their epidemiology, clinical presentation, biological markers, carcinogenic risk factors, prognostic factors, treatment and outcome. Undifferentiated NPC (UCNT), the most frequent histological type, is endemic in certain regions, especially in South East Asia. The disease has also been associated with the presence of the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV). Although NPC is a radiosensitive and chemosensitive tumour, a substantial number of patients develop local recurrence or distant metastases. For patients with locoregional advanced disease, it is well known that conventional radiotherapy is insufficient in terms of both the local control rates and distant metastases. New techniques of radiation and new combined radiotherapy and chemotherapy modalities have been evaluated in numerous clinical trials in recent years. The purpose of this article is to review the current knowledge in terms of the epidemiology, biology, prognosis, management and outcome of patients with NPC.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms* / virology
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / therapy
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Tumor Virus Infections / complications


  • Antineoplastic Agents