Nasopharyngeal Cancer: Latest Research

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 06/2016

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done now to learn more about this type of cancer and how to treat it. To see other pages, use the menu.

Doctors are working to learn more about NPC, ways to prevent it, how to best treat it, and how to provide the best care to people diagnosed with this disease. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. Always talk with your doctor about the diagnostic and treatment options best for you.

  • Immunotherapy. Immunotherapy, also called biologic therapy, is a type of cancer treatment designed to boost the body's natural defenses to fight the cancer. It uses substances either made by the body or in a laboratory to improve or restore immune system function. Treatment based on the specific biologic characteristics of a tumor is being used with increasing frequency and is being tested in clinical trials. People should talk with their doctors about the availability of these studies. Learn more about the basics of immunotherapy.

  • Chemotherapy for recurrent or metastatic NPC. A recent phase 3 study found that treating recurrent or metastatic NPC with a combination of gemcitabine (Gemzar) and cisplatin (Platinol) worked better than using a combination of fluorouracil (5FU, Adrucil) and cisplatin.

  • Combining therapies. As described in the Treatment Options section, doctors continue to research the best combinations of different types of therapies, such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery, for different stages of NPC.

  • Palliative care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current NPC treatments to improve patients’ comfort and quality of life. This includes ways to relieve dry mouth (xerostomia), mouth sores, pain, and other side effects.

Looking for More About the Latest Research?

If you would like additional information about the latest areas of research regarding NPC, explore these related items that take you outside of this guide:

The next section in this guide is Coping with Treatment. It offers some guidance in how to cope with the physical, emotional, and social changes that cancer and its treatment can bring. Or, use the menu to choose another section to continue reading this guide.