Can Nasopharyngeal Cancer Be Prevented?

There's no sure way to prevent nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC). But there are some things you can do that might lower your risk of getting NPC and other types of cancers.

Avoid tobacco and alcohol

Both tobacco and alcohol use have clearly been linked to many cancers, as well as other health problems. Since there appear to be some links between tobacco and heavy alcohol use with NPC, especially in the US, it might help to avoid these to lower a person’s risk of NPC. Avoiding them in general can have many health benefits.

Avoid certain infections

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)

Infection with EBV has been linked to NPC. Scientists are trying to make an EBV vaccine, but at this time there's no known way to prevent this infection.

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

Some research shows that certain high-risk types of HPV may be linked to a small group of NPC cases especially in younger people who don’t smoke. Getting an HPV vaccine and trying to avoid HPV infection might help prevent NPC and some forms of cancer, including cancers of the penis, cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, mouth, and throat. 

See HPV (human papillomavirus) to learn more about HPV and vaccines to prevent HPV infection.

Avoid certain foods

Because eating certain types of foods, such as diets high in salt-cured fish, have been linked with NPC risk, eating less or not eating some types of food may lower the risk. This is especially true 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.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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Last Revised: August 1, 2022

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