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Radiother Oncol. 2012 Sep;104(3):272-8. doi: 10.1016/j.radonc.2012.08.001. Epub 2012 Aug 30.

The battle against nasopharyngeal cancer.

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Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital, Hong Kong, China.


This is a review of the evolving efforts to understand and combat nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), a most peculiar cancer with a distinctly skewed geographic and ethnic distribution. Multifactorial etiology with dynamic interplay of genetic predisposition, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection and environmental carcinogens is suggested. With changing lifestyle in Hong Kong, the age-standardized incidence rate has decreased by more than 50% during the past 30 years. The advent of megavoltage radiotherapy has transformed this once lethal cancer into one that is readily curable. Advances in technology and addition of chemotherapy have led to gratifying improvements. Overall survival exceeding 75% at 5 years could now be achieved; series using advanced technique with intensity-modulation consistently achieved excellent locoregional control. Studies are on-going to develop more potent systemic therapy for distant control. Serious late toxicities remain a serious concern demanding further improvement in radiotherapy technique and optimization of dose fractionation. Translational researches are increasingly important for the ideal goals of prevention, early detection and more accurate prognostication/prediction to work toward personalized medicine. The battle against NPC is one of the most fascinating successes in oncology, it is highly hopeful that with international collaborations and concerted efforts, we can totally conquer this cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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