Nasopharyngeal carcinoma is a rare type of head and neck cancer. It starts in the upper part of your throat, behind the nose. This area is called the nasopharynx. The nasopharynx is precariously placed at the base of your skull, above the roof of your mouth.In 2002, 80,000 incident cases of nasopharyngeal cancer were diagnosed worldwide and the estimated number of deaths exceeded 50,000, making it the 23rd most common new cancer in the world. The highest risk area for NPC is Hong Kong, with 1/40 men developing nasopharyngeal carcinoma by the age of 75.
Radiation therapy is the mainstay of treatment, with chemotherapy used in advanced cases. Concurrent cisplatin, 5-fluorouracil, and radiotherapy have been shown to improve survival. A team of scientists from the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI Singapore) at the National University of Singapore, National University Cancer Institute Singapore (NCIS) and National University Hospital Singapore (NUH), discovered a distinct mutational signature and nine significantly mutated genes associated with nasopharyngeal cancer, paving the way to developing novel therapies for this deadly disease.