Nasopharyngeal cancer

Find out more about nasopharyngeal cancer, including how common it is and ways to reduce your risk

What is the nasopharynx?

The nasopharynx connects the back of your nose to the back of your throat. It allows you to breathe through your nose and swallow mucus produced by the lining of your nose.

How common is nasopharyngeal cancer?

This type of cancer is very rare in the UK but it is more common in some ethnic groups, for example people of Chinese origin. In 2017, 237 cases of nasopharyngeal cancer were diagnosed in the UK*.

What can increase the risk of this cancer?

Evidence shows that eating Cantonese-style salted fish can cause this type of cancer.

This means that people eating a south-east Asian diet may be at higher risk of nasopharyngeal cancer.

Smoking also increases the risk of nasopharyngeal cancer. If you do smoke, stopping smoking will reduce your risk. The NHS stop smoking service can help you quit.

Visit NHS Choices to find out about the symptoms and treatment of nasopharyngeal cancer.

*Cancer statistics based on combined data from EnglandScotlandNorthern Ireland. World Cancer Research Fund, 2020.