Symptoms of nasopharyngeal cancer

Some people with nasopharyngeal cancer have no 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 a few weeks:

  • a lump or growth anywhere in the neck area that does not go away after 3 weeks (this might be the only sign you have)
  • hearing loss – usually on one side only 
  • ringing in your ears (tinnitus)
  • fluid collecting in your ear (glue ear)
  • blocked or stuffy nose – particularly if it’s only blocked on one side
  • blood stained discharge from your nose and nosebleeds
  • headaches
  • double vision
  • numbness of the lower part of your face
  • difficulty with swallowing
  • changes in your voice, such as hoarseness
  • weight loss

When to see your GP

Tell your GP if you have any of these symptoms, particularly if they have lasted for more than 3 weeks.

Your symptoms are unlikely to be cancer. But it's important to get them checked by a doctor.

The earlier a cancer is picked up, the easier it is to treat. And the more likely it is that the treatment will be successful.

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

  • Suspected cancer: recognition and referral
    National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2015 (last updated January 2021)

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

  • Nasopharyngeal carcinoma: United Kingdom National Multidisciplinary Guidelines
    R Simo and others
    The Journal of Laryngology and Otology, 2016. Volume 130, Supplement 2, Pages 97-103

  • Nasopharyngeal carcinoma: ESMO-EURACAN Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow up
    P Bossi and others
    Annals of Oncology, 2021. Volume 32, Issue 4, Pages 452-465

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

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

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