Our 24/7 cancer helpline provides information and answers for people dealing with cancer. We can connect you with trained cancer information specialists who will answer questions about a cancer diagnosis and provide guidance and a compassionate ear.
Chat live online
Select the Live Chat button at the bottom of the page
Our highly trained specialists are available 24/7 via phone and on weekdays can assist through video calls and online chat. We connect patients, caregivers, and family members with essential services and resources at every step of their cancer journey. Ask us how you can get involved and support the fight against cancer. Some of the topics we can assist with include:
Referrals to patient-related programs or resources
Donations, website, or event-related assistance
For medical questions, we encourage you to review our information with your doctor.
In the United States and other countries where nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) is not common, doctors do not recommend routine screening for this cancer. (Screening is testing for cancer in people without any symptoms.) There are no simple exams or blood tests that can find this cancer early. Still, regular check-ups and visits to the dentist are recommended for your overall health. The throat, mouth, and nose are looked at during these visits.
But in some parts of the world such as China, where NPC is more common, some people, like those who have a first-degree relative with NPC, are screened routinely for this cancer. Their blood might show evidence of infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), although EBV infection is much more common than NPC. If they have evidence of an EBV infection, they will get regular exams of the nasopharynx and neck. It is still not known if this lowers the death rate from NPC. Studies are being done to find more reliable screening methods because EBV infections can be present in some people for many years before NPC is ever diagnosed.
Sometimes NPC is found early because a person has symptoms that cause them to see a doctor. The symptoms may seem unrelated to the nasopharynx (for instance, a constant feeling of fullness in one ear). But in most people, NPC doesn't cause symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage.
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.
Chan KCA, Woo JKS, King A, et al. Analysis of Plasma Epstein-Barr Virus DNA to Screen for Nasopharyngeal Cancer. N Engl J Med. 2017;377(6):513-522.
National Cancer Institute. Oral Cavity and Nasopharyngeal Cancers Screening (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version. November 3, 2021. Accessed at https://www.cancer.gov/types/head-and-neck/hp/oral-screening-pdq on March 15, 2022.
National Cancer Institute. Oral Cavity and Nasopharyngeal Cancers Screening (PDQ®)–Patient Version. Oct 08, 2021. Accessed at https://www.cancer.gov/types/head-and-neck/patient/oral-screening-pdq on March 15, 2022.
Last Revised: August 1, 2022
American Cancer Society medical information is copyrighted material. For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.
Our lifesaving work is made possible thanks to generous supporters like you.
Donate now so we can continue to provide access to critical cancer information, resources, and support to improve lives of people with cancer and their families.