An article recently came out encouraging people who are experiencing a blocked nose to not just dismiss it as a common cold, as it could be nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC).
Nasopharyngeal Cancer (NPC)
Nasopharyngeal cancer affects the tissue that connects the back of your nose to the back of your mouth. This area is called the nasopharynx, and it’s located just above the roof of your mouth, at the base of your skull. When you breathe in through your nose, air flows through your nose, nasopharynx, and into your throat before it reaches your lungs. Nasopharyngeal cancer begins when cells in this area start to grow out of control.
In most cases, people with nasopharyngeal cancer notice a lump on the back of their neck. There may be one or multiple lumps, and they’re usually not painful. These masses appear when cancer spreads to the lymph nodes in the neck and causes them to swell.
There are also several other warning signs such as:
- Tinnitus, or ringing in your ears
- Hearing loss
- A feeling of fullness in the ear
- Nasal stuffiness
- Difficulty opening your mouth
- Facial pain
- Facial numbness
- Difficulty breathing or speaking
- Ear infections that won’t go away
Many nasopharyngeal cancer symptoms are similar to symptoms of other, less serious illnesses. As a result, this disease can be difficult to detect in the early stages. That’s why it’s important to schedule a check-up with your healthcare provider if you notice any of these issues.
How It’s So Often Brushed Aside
Unfortunately, NPC is not diagnosed until it is in its later stage due to the symptoms being similar to other things or not as noticeable. The blocked nose and hearing loss if often attributed to the common cold or COVID-19, but it could actually be NPC.
Medical professionals say the recognizable difference between a blocked nose from NPC and from a cold is that the stuffy feeling will not subside after blowing your nose when you have NPC. They also note that if you have had this feeling for a longer period of time, such as several months, it is time to go see a doctor because it could be NPC.
Research has shown that males are two to three times more likely to be get NPC compared to females. Females are spared from NPC because of their estrogen levels are higher.
Another known risk factor is genetics and family history. Those who are Southern Chinese heritage are further at risk with over 70 percent of cases happening in East and Southeast Asia.
If you are experiencing any lingering symptoms such as a blocked nose that you might have brushed aside as a common cold, be sure to reach out to your doctor because it could be more serious.