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Find out what screening is, and why there is no screening programme for nasopharyngeal cancer in the UK.

What screening is

Screening means testing people for early stages of an illness before they have any symptoms. For screening to be useful the tests:

  • must be reliable at picking up the illness
  • must be simple and quick
  • overall must do more good than harm to people taking part

No screening available

There is no national screening programme because:

  • this condition is very rare, so many people would have unnecessary tests
  • the benefits don't outweigh the costs

Talk to your doctor if you think you are at high risk of nasopharyngeal cancer. 

Last reviewed: 
16 Aug 2014
  • Textbook of uncommon cancers (4th edition)
    Raghavan D, Blanke C, Johnson D and others
    Wiley-Blackwell, 2012

  • Improving outcomes in head and neck cancers
    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), November 2004

  • Referral for suspected cancer. A clinical practice guideline
    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), June 2005

  • Diagnosis and Management of Head and Neck Cancer
    Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN), October 2006

  • Scottish Referral Guidelines for Suspected Cancer: A quick reference guide
    The Scottish Government, March 2009

Information and help

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