Nasopharyngeal Cancer

+ -Text Size

Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention TOPICS

Can nasopharyngeal cancer be prevented?

Most people in the United States who develop nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) have no avoidable risk factors, so their cancers could not have been prevented. The possible links with tobacco and heavy alcohol use are not clear, so it’s not known if avoiding these can lower a person’s risk of NPC. However, both tobacco and alcohol use have clearly been linked to a number of other cancers, as well as other health problems, so avoiding them can have many health benefits.

Because certain dietary factors have been linked with NPC risk, reducing or eliminating some types of food may lower the number of cases in parts of the world where NPC is common, such as southern China, northern Africa, and the Arctic region. Descendants of Southeast Asians who immigrated to the United States and eat a typical American diet, for example, have a lower risk of developing NPC. But these dietary factors are not thought to account for all cases of NPC in most other parts of the world. Other factors, such as genetics, are likely to play a part as well.


Last Medical Review: 09/23/2013
Last Revised: 09/23/2013