Nasendoscopy for nasopharyngeal cancer

A nasendoscopy is a test to look at the:

  • inside of the nose
  • throat (pharynx)
  • voice box (larynx)

Your doctor passes a thin flexible tube called a nasendoscope into your nose and down the back of your throat to your voice box. The tube has a camera and a light at the end and allows the doctor to check for any abnormal looking areas.

Before your test

There are no special preparations for a nasendoscopy. You can eat and drink and take your medicines as normal. 

What happens during a nasendoscopy?

A nasendoscopy usually takes place in an outpatient clinic. It lasts only a few minutes. You will be awake and able to speak to the doctor.

Your doctor passes the nasendoscope into your nose. This can be uncomfortable but does not usually hurt. Your eyes might water, and you might feel like coughing.

Your doctor might ask if you would like a local anaesthetic Open a glossary item sprayed in the nose 10 minutes beforehand to numb it.

Diagram showing a nasoendoscopy

During the test, your doctor may ask you to:

  • swallow 
  • breathe through your nose
  • puff out your cheeks

If your specialist sees an abnormality, you will probably need to go into the hospital for a day to have a sample of tissue taken under a short general anaesthetic Open a glossary item.

After your test

You can usually go home straight after your test. 

If you had the anaesthetic spray, you can’t eat or drink until the anaesthetic wears off and your throat feels normal again. This may take about an hour.

Nasendoscopy is a very safe procedure, but your nurse will tell you who to contact if you have any problems after your test.

For information and support, you can contact the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040. The lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Nasopharyngeal carcinoma: United Kingdom National Multidisciplinary Guidelines
    R Simo and others
    Journal of Laryngology and Otology, 2016. Volume 130, Supplement 2, Pages 97-103

  • Textbook of Uncommon Cancers (5th edition)
    D Raghavan, MS Ahluwalia, C Blanke and others
    Wiley Blackwell, 2017

Last reviewed: 
03 Feb 2021
Next review due: 
03 Feb 2024

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