Diagnosis of NPC
EBV Serology: In recent years, EBV-serology screening has been introduced to help early detection.
Endoscopic examination: Over the last 20-30 years, ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialists have routinely used fibre-optic endoscopes, inserted into the nose and pharynx, to detect NPC and other head and neck cancers. Most ENT clinics in Singapore are equipped to do such a procedure.
NBI - the latest NPC detection equipment: A new and innovative form of video endoscopy uses a special Narrow Band Illumination (NBI) function. NBI makes use of a specific wavelength of light to illuminate the area. This special light enhances the blood vessels of extremely early cancers which are not yet bulky enough to be seen under normal light. With the help of NBI, head and neck cancers can be detected earlier and more accurately.
What are the signs and symptoms of NPC?
Blood-stained sputum, usually first thing in the morning. Bleeding from the tumour usually flows into the throat overnight. If the bleeding is excessive, there may also be bleeding from the nose.
A "blocked" sensation in the ear, hearing loss or tinnitus (a ringing sound) for no apparent reason. The tumour is often situated where the Eustachian tube of the ear opens into the nose. This may affect the normal function of the Eustachian tube. The blocked sensation would be similar to the feeling you may have when landing in a plane or when you have a bad head cold.
Abnormal lumps in the neck. NPC often spreads to the lymph nodes in the neck.
Blocked nose, headache, problems with the nerves controlling eye movement, vision and other cranial nerves. These are possible symptoms of later-stage NPC. In later-stage NPC, the cancer would spread to the bones, lungs and liver.