Cancer is a disease that originates in the basic building blocks of your body. This is your cells. Mutations (defects) develop in your cells.
The result of this is that old cells do not die when they should, and new cells are made even though you do not need them.
A mass (tumor) can form from these excess cells. These tumors are either benign or malignant. Benign tumors are not cancer. Malignant ones are cancer.
Cancer is much larger and wider than a single disease. It is a large group of diseases. Cancer is marked by cells that are invasive (they invade and destroy adjacent tissue), aggressive (they grow and divide without respect to normal limits) and sometimes metastatic (they spread to other parts of the body).
There are many different kinds of cancer. Cancer is usually named by where it originates in your body. For example, thyroid cancer begins in your thyroid gland. Gallbladder cancer begins in your gallbladder. Cancer may metastasize (spread) to other areas of your body, but it is still designated by where it began in your body.
Nasopharyngeal cancer is one of the many different types of cancer. It is cancer that originates in your nasopharynx. Your nasopharynx is the uppermost area of your throat (pharynx). Your nasopharynx is situated where your auditory tubes and nasal passages join the rest of your upper respiratory tract. This is above the back of your throat and behind your nose.
Nasopharyngeal cancer results from genetic mutations (defects) that occur in the squamous cells that line the surface of your nasopharynx. These mutations cause your normal cells to begin to grow out of control and invade surrounding surfaces. In time, they will metastasize (spread) to other areas of your body. However, no one knows what causes these genetic mutations to occur.
Nasopharyngeal cancer does not usually display any signs or symptoms in the beginning stages of the disease. Later, as the disease progresses, possible signs and symptoms may include:
- Nasal congestion that is on one side of your nose
- A lump in your neck that results from a swollen lymph node
- Pain in your face and neck
- A bloody discharge from your nose
- Double vision
- Hearing loss that occurs in one ear
- Ear infections that develop frequently