Symptoms of nasopharyngeal cancer

Some people with nasopharyngeal cancer may not have symptoms at all. But it is important that you tell your GP if you have any of the following symptoms, especially if they last for more than 3 weeks.

Symptoms include:

  • a lump or growth anywhere in the neck area that does not go away after 3 weeks. This might be the only symptom you have

  • hearing loss – usually on one side only

  • ringing in your ears (tinnitus)

  • headaches

  • fluid collecting in your ear. This is also known as glue ear

  • blocked or stuffy nose – particularly if it’s only blocked on one side

  • blood stained discharge from your nose and nosebleeds

  • double vision

  • difficulty with swallowing

  • numbness in your face

  • a hoarse voice

  • weight loss

When to see your GP

If you have any of these symptoms, you must get them checked by your GP. Particularly if they have lasted for 3 weeks or more.

Your symptoms are unlikely to be cancer, they can be caused by other conditions. Most people with these symptoms don’t have nasopharyngeal cancer. But it's important to get them checked by a doctor.

If your GP suspects your symptoms could be because of nasopharyngeal cancer or another type of cancer they will refer you to a specialist. 

  • Suspected cancer: recognition and referral
    National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2015. Last updated October 2023.

  • Scottish referral guidelines for suspected cancer
    Healthcare Improvement Scotland, 2019

  • Head and neck cancer explained: an overview of management pathways
    David Owens, Vinidh Paleri & Adam V. Jones 
    British Dental Journal, 2022. Volume 233, pages721–725

  • Nasopharyngeal cancer

    H Kang and J Chan,

    BMJ Best Practice, Accessed January 2023

  • ESMO–EURACAN Clinical Practice Guideline update for nasopharyngeal carcinoma: adjuvant therapy and first-line treatment of recurrent/metastatic disease

    P Bossi and others

    Annals of Oncology, 2023. Volume 34, Issue 3

Last reviewed: 
13 Feb 2024
Next review due: 
13 Feb 2027

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