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Nasopharyngeal Cancers

What to Expect After Treatment is Completed

Once you have made it through treatment, you need to have close follow-up with your doctor. The current NCCN Guidelines for Head and Neck Cancers recommend this follow-up plan after being treated for a throat cancer:18Referenced with permission from The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) for Head and Neck Cancers V.2.2016. © National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc 2016. All rights reserved. Accessed December 7, 2016. To view the most recent and complete version of the guideline, go online to www.nccn.org.

  • Visit your head and neck specialist on a regular schedule (or earlier if you have any concerning symptoms). This allows your doctor to examine you for any signs that the cancer has come back.
    • For the first year, you should go every one to three months.
    • For the second year, you should go every two to six months.
    • For the third to fifth year, you should go every four to eight months.
    • After five years, you can start going every year.
  • Your doctor should select a scan to be performed in the first six months after treatment. The first scan serves as a “baseline” study for the purpose of comparing future studies. This will depend on the type and location of your cancer. Imaging may include CT scans, MRI scans, and PET scans. If something suspicious comes up, you might need another biopsy.
  • Consider chest imaging  to check for any signs of lung cancer  if you have an extensive smoking history.
  • Check your thyroid function every six to twelve months if you have had radiation to the neck area.
  • For nasopharyngeal cancer:
    • Your doctor might consider monitoring you for a virus called Epstein-Barr virus with annual blood work or imaging.
    • Because it is difficult to view the nasopharynx without imaging, routine annual imaging may be necessary.
  • Get help with a therapist as needed for difficulties with speaking, hearing and swallowing.
  • See a specialist about appropriate nutrition and diet.
  • Alert your doctor if you experience any signs of depression.
  • Stop smoking and stop drinking.
  • See a dentist.
References

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4 Xu FH, Xiong D, Xu YF, Cao SM, Xue WQ, Qin HD, Liu WS, Cao JY, Zhang Y, Feng QS, Chen LZ, Li MZ, Liu ZW, Liu Q, Hong MH, Shugart YY, Zeng YX, Zeng MS, Jia WH. An epidemiological and molecular study of the relationship between smoking, risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and Epstein-Barr virus activation. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2012 Sep.

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7 Yu, et al. Cantonese-style salted fish as a cause of nasopharyngeal carcinoma: a report of a case-control study in Hong Kong. Cancer Res. 1986;46:956-961.

8 zur Hausen, et al. EBV DNA in biopsies of Burkitt tumors and anaplastic carcinomas of the nasopharynx. Nature. 1970;228:1056-1058.

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10 Yu MC, et al. Occupational and other non-dietary risk factors for NPC in Guangzhou, China. Int J Cancer. 1990;45:1033-1039.

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14 Neel HB, 3rd. Nasopharyngeal carcinoma: diagnosis, staging, and management. Oncology (Williston Park). Feb 1992;6(2):87-95; discussion 99-102.

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17 Spiro RH, Thaler HT, Hicks WF, Kher UA, Huvos AH, Strong EW. The importance of clinical staging of minor salivary gland carcinoma. Am J Surg. 1991 Oct;162(4):330-6.

18 Referenced with permission from The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) for Head and Neck Cancers V.2.2016. © National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc 2016. All rights reserved. Accessed December 7, 2016. To view the most recent and complete version of the guideline, go online to www.nccn.org.

19 Piccirillo JF, Costas I, Reichman ME. Chapter 2: Cancers of the Head and Neck. Ries LAG, Young JL, Keel GE, Eisner MP, Lin YD, Horner M-J (editors). SEER Survival Monograph: Cancer Survival Among Adults: U.S. SEER Program, 1988-2001, Patient and Tumor Characteristics. National Cancer Institute, SEER Program, NIH Pub. No. 07-6215, Bethesda, MD, 2007.

20 Edge SB, et al. The AJCC Cancer Staging Manual – Seventh Edition. American Joint Committee on Cancer 2010.