Nasopharyngeal cancer 

Nasopharyngeal cancer is a rare type of cancer that affects the part of the throat connecting the back of the nose to the back of the mouth (the pharynx). In the UK, only about 240 people are diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer each year.

Nasopharyngeal cancer shouldn't be confused with other types of cancer that also affect the throat, such as laryngeal (larynx) cancer and oesophageal cancer.

The exact cause of nasopharyngeal cancer is unknown, but a number of factors can increase your risk of developing the condition. These include:

  • being of far Eastern or north African descent
  • having a diet very high in salt-cured meats and fish
  • being exposed to the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a common virus that causes glandular fever
  • having a first-degree relative, such as a parent, who has had the condition

About three times as many men as women are affected by nasopharyngeal cancer, and the average age at diagnosis is about 50.

The outlook for nasopharyngeal cancer depends on your age, general health and how advanced the condition is when you're diagnosed.

Radiotherapy alone can cure many very early-stage nasopharyngeal cancers, but many cases are diagnosed at a more advanced stage as the condition doesn't always cause obvious symptoms until later on.

More advanced cancers are treated with a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. They're often curable if the cancer hasn't spread beyond the head and neck region.

Read more about diagnosing and treating head and neck cancer at UCLH.

 Surgeons

Miss Safina Ali, Consultant ENT Head and Neck Surgeon

Safina Ali

Safina Ali was recently appointed as part of the head and neck consultant team from The Royal London Hospital. Having trained in Scotland she has completed two clinical fellowships in advanced head and neck surgery, reconstruction and cranio-facial resection at Guys and St Thomas' and Charing Cross Hospitals respectively.

She also holds a research fellowship from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, New York. Her areas of expertise are treating benign and malignant diseases of the oral cavity, oropharynx, larynx, thyroid and salivary glands. Her research interests include clinical outcomes, and quality of life issues in head and neck cancer patients. She has also collaborated with the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio on creating risk stratification models on counselling patients with cancer.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”

Mr Ghassan Alusi, Consultant ENT Head and Neck Surgeon

Mr Ghassan Alusi

Mr Ghassan Alusi joins UCLH as part of the head and neck consultant team from The Royal London Hospital. He is deeply involved in research into image guided surgery, for which he was awarded a PhD by Leicester University.

Mr Alusi manages complex head and neck surgery and thyroid disorders. He is a senior surgeon within the Head and Neck Unit at Barts and The Royal London NHS Trust.

Mr Alusi's general training was at The Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear, St Bartholomew's, The Royal Marsden and The Royal Free Hospital. He became a Consultant at St Bartholomew's and The Royal London Hospitals in 2000.

Mr Khalid Ghufoor, Consultant ENT Head and Neck Surgeon

Mr Khalid Ghufoor

Mr Khalid Ghufoor was appointed as a consultant in ENT head and neck surgery 2002 at St Bartholomew’s and The Royal London Hospitals. He has a specialist interest in minimal access surgical techniques for dealing with cancers of the head and neck particularly transoral microscopic laser surgery. He has developed a sub-specialist interest in thyroid and salivary gland surgery, laryngeal and pharyngeal tumours, airway restorative surgery and rehabilitative surgery for laryngopharyngeal dysfunction following treatment of cancer of the head and neck. He has also worked at the Royal national Throat Nose and Ear Hospital since 2005 running a tertiary laryngotracheal service. He is the head of the ENT department at Barts Health since 2014. Mr Ghufoor has been a programme and training director for North Thames ENT since 2011.

Mr Richard Millard, Consultant ENT Head and Neck Surgeon

Mr Richard Millard
Coming soon...

Mr Paul O Flynn, Consultant ENT Head and Neck Surgeon

Mr Paul O'Flynn

Mr Paul O’Flynn is a consultant ENT head and neck surgeon at UCLH. After qualifying in 1982 he trained in London and Nottingham before returning to The Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital in 1993 as a consultant.

His main clinical interests are in head and neck surgery, particularly salivary gland, thyroid and laryngological surgery.

He is an honorary senior lecturer at UCL.

Full consultant profile

Mr Paul Stimpson, Consultant ENT Head and Neck Surgeon

Mr Paul Stimpson

Mr Stimpson completed his head and neck surgical training in the North Thames region. In addition to high quality experience in London, he undertook a 12 month advanced surgical oncology fellowship in Melbourne, Australia prior to taking up his substantive consultant post at Barts Health in 2014. He is a core member of the Barts Health head and neck multidisciplinary team. He has a special interest in developing minimally invasive techniques for controlling head and neck cancer including transoral robotic surgery (TORS).

In addition to his clinical roles, Paul remains active in research, audit and service improvement projects. He is also a member of the teaching faculty for a number of courses across the UK.

“Across our region we have a great team of specialists who are dedicated to improving the lives of head and neck cancer patients. At UCLH we are in a unique position to provide state of the art surgical care and we strive for excellence in everything we do.”

Mr Francis Vaz, Consultant ENT Head and Neck Surgeon

Mr Francis Vaz

Mr Vaz qualified from the University of London through The United Medical and Dental Schools of Guys and St Thomas’ Hospitals in 1994 and has visited institutions around the world to broaden his experience and to bring an international flavour to his practice.

Mr Vaz has published widely on all aspects of ENT surgery and has contributed chapters to major ENT and general medical textbooks. He has received prestigious awards from The Royal College of Surgeons (Lionel College Fellowship) and also The British Association of Head and Neck Surgeons (BAHNO Travelling Fellowship).

“The treatment for head and neck cancer is increasingly individualised for every patient. It is wonderful to work within a team that offers the patient a high level of expertise, to tailor the treatments to the patient, as not all treatments are suitable for every patient.”

Full consultant profile