Nasopharyngeal Cancer: Symptoms and Signs

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

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. Use the menu to see other pages.

People with nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) may experience the following symptoms or signs. Symptoms are changes that you can feel in your body. Signs are changes in something measured, like by taking your blood pressure or doing a lab test. Together, symptoms and signs can help describe a medical problem. Sometimes, people with NPC do not have any of the symptoms and signs described below. Or, the cause of a symptom or sign may be a different medical condition that is not cancer.

  • A lump in the neck, which is the most common symptom

  • Nasal obstruction or stuffiness

  • Trouble hearing or hearing loss

  • A sense of fullness or pain in the ear that is caused by a buildup of fluid in the middle ear, especially if it does not go away and occurs in just 1 ear

  • Pain and ringing in the ear

  • A sore throat that doesn't seem to go away

  • Trouble breathing or speaking

  • Frequent nosebleeds

  • Pain, numbness, or paralysis in the face

  • Frequent headaches

  • Difficulty opening the mouth

  • Blurred or double vision

  • Fatigue

  • Unexplained weight loss

If you are concerned about any changes you experience, please talk with your doctor or dentist. Your doctor will ask how long and how often you’ve been experiencing the symptom(s), in addition to other questions. This is to help figure out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.

If cancer is diagnosed, relieving symptoms remains an important part of cancer care and treatment. Managing symptoms may also be called "palliative care" or supportive care. It is often started soon after diagnosis and continued throughout treatment. Be sure to talk with your health care team about the symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section in this guide is Diagnosis. It explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.