Nasopharyngeal Cancer: Latest Research

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 06/2022

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done to learn more about nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) and how to treat it. Use the menu to see other pages.

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 NPC. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. Always talk with your doctor about the best diagnostic and treatment options for you.

  • New medications. As explained in Types of Treatment, immunotherapy is a type of systemic treatment designed to boost the body's natural defenses to fight the cancer. It is an area of active research for NPC. Another type of systemic treatment based on the specific biologic characteristics of a tumor that is being used more often for NPC is called targeted therapy. This approach is being tested in clinical trials. People with NPC should talk with their doctors about the availability of these studies. Learn more about the basics of immunotherapy and targeted therapy.

  • 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 (available as a generic drug) worked better than using a combination of fluorouracil (5FU) and cisplatin.

  • Combining therapies. As described in Types of Treatment, 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/supportive care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current NPC treatments to improve comfort and quality of life for patients. This includes ways to relieve dry mouth (xerostomia), lymphedema, mouth sores, pain, and other side effects.

Looking for More About the Latest Research?

If you would like more 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, social, and financial changes that cancer and its treatment can bring. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.