Nasopharyngeal Cancer in Children and Adolescents

Nasopharyngeal Cancer in Children and Adolescents

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Nasopharyngeal cancer is a tumor that develops in the upper part of the throat behind the nose. Treatment is complex because the disease and its treatments can affect breathing, swallowing, and talking. At Duke Children's, our experienced team includes pediatric cancer experts, ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctors, dietitians, speech therapists, and others who work together to give your child complete care. We provide a full spectrum of services and support to help your child and family.

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Diagnosing Nasopharyngeal Cancer

Our pediatric cancer doctors use blood tests and advanced imaging -- such as MRI, CT, and PET scans -- to diagnose nasopharyngeal cancer. Our ENT doctors examine the area closely and take a tiny sample of the tumor with a thin, flexible tube called a nasopharyngoscope that is inserted through the nose. This information helps the team develop a treatment plan that will offer your child the best possible results. 

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The goals of chemotherapy are to destroy cancer cells or stop them from growing and to prevent cancer from returning. Pediatric medical oncologists provide chemotherapy through an IV infusion, in a pill or liquid form, or via an injection. 

Radiation Therapy

External-beam radiation therapy, which is delivered by a machine outside the body, focuses high-energy X-ray beams on tumors to kill or stop the growth of cancer cells. Our pediatric radiation oncologists specially design individual radiation treatments to limit possible long-term effects of treatment. They use advanced imaging techniques to determine the exact location of the tumor and to minimize damage to surrounding tissues.

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Why Choose Duke

Access to the Latest Research and Treatment
Our nasopharyngeal cancer specialists are also researchers who are working to improve treatment for childhood cancer. They work collaboratively with pediatric cancer experts from around the world through the Children's Oncology Group, the world’s largest child and adolescent cancer research organization. That means your child has access to the latest treatments that are based on the experience of childhood cancer experts worldwide.

Child Life
We understand how difficult it is when your child is fighting cancer, so we try to make it a little easier on your entire family. Whether it's explaining a procedure, offering encouragement, or arranging fun activities during a hospital stay, your child gets care in a welcoming, kid-friendly environment. And, you and your family can get emotional support and education to help you cope as your child goes through treatment and recovery.

Adolescent and Young Adult Program
Teens and young adults are too old to be treated like young kids but may be too young for adult care. Our Adolescent and Young Adult Program brings together the expertise of pediatric and adult cancer specialists to determine what’s best for your child. We offer psychological support to help them cope with cancer treatment and how it affects their self-confidence, appearance, and social life.

Extended Cancer Outpatient Services
We offer outpatient services -- such as chemotherapy, transfusions, and lab tests -- 12 hours a day, seven days a week at Duke Children’s Valvano Day Hospital. This means your child won’t have to be admitted to the hospital just because they feel ill or need treatment on a day when their doctor’s office is closed.

Care Coordination and Support
Our social workers help you navigate the medical system and coordinate the variety of health services your child needs. They can help you work with insurance providers, connect with resources, and manage the details related to your child’s care. Our nurse coordinators can help you schedule appointments for tests, treatments, and other medical visits.

Quality-of-Life Care
Our team focuses on managing your child’s symptoms and other aspects of treatment that can affect their quality of life. We help with pain management, supportive nutrition, relaxation techniques, and other approaches to help your child get through treatment. 

Childhood Cancer Survivorship Resources
Once treatment is complete, you can count on us for continuing support. We offer long-term follow-up services for preventive health care, including screenings and ongoing surveillance. Our cancer care doctors and nurses work with social workers and child psychologists who can offer support and assistance with school-related or personal issues. In addition, we can help your child transition to adult cancer care services when they’re ready. If your child needs other services related to treatment, we refer you to the appropriate experts. You’ll have resources and support to ensure your child’s long-term well-being.

Best Children's Hospital in NC
In addition to being among the best in the country, Duke Children's Hospital & Health Center is proud to be nationally ranked in nine pediatric specialties.