Symptoms and Signs of Nasopharyngeal Cancer in Children

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 9/21/2021

Doctor's Notes on Nasopharyngeal Cancer in Children

Nasopharyngeal cancer occurs when cells in the lining of the nasal cavity (inside of the nose) and throat start to grow abnormally. Nasopharyngeal cancer is rare in children younger than 10 and more common in adolescents. Risk factors for developing nasopharyngeal cancer include infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which infects cells of the immune system, and by having a certain marker on cells. 

Symptoms of nasopharyngeal cancer in children may include:

  • painless lumps in the neck,
  • nosebleeds,
  • blocked or stuffy nose,
  • headache,
  • ear pain,
  • recurrent ear infections,
  • problems moving the jaw or opening the mouth,
  • hearing loss,
  • ringing in the ear,
  • feeling of fullness in the ear (especially on one side only),
  • facial pain or numbness,
  • difficulty breathing or talking, or
  • blurred or double vision.

What Is the Treatment for Nasopharyngeal Cancer in Children?

The initial treatment of nasopharyngeal cancer in children may include the following types of therapy:

  • Chemotherapy followed by a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy given at the same time
  • Interferon therapy
  • Chemotherapy followed by radiation therapy
  • Surgery to remove the tumor

If the cancer recurs (comes back) after treatment, specialized immunotherapy treatments may be given. Clinical trials to examine new drugs or new combinations of drugs are an additional treatment option.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.