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Nasopharyngeal Cancer Diagnosis

Penn Head and Neck Cancer specialists are experts in the evaluation and diagnosis of all types of nasopharyngeal cancers, including squamous cell carcinoma, minor salivary gland cancer, lymphoma and sarcoma. We offer the latest advancements in diagnostic tools and tests that provide the most accurate diagnosis.

These tests and tools include:

  • Nasopharyngoscopy: A nasopharyngoscopy may be performed to assist doctors in evaluating for nasopharyngeal cancer. A nasopharyngoscopy is a procedure that involves placing a rigid or flexible fiberoptic camera through the nose to see the surface of the nasopharynx.
  • Physical exam and history
  • Physical exam of the nose, face and neck
  • X-rays of the head and neck
  • MRI
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
  • Biopsy of the nasopharynx: A biopsy of the nasopharynx may be performed either in the office or in the operating room to confirm your diagnosis
  • Biopsy of the neck: An excisional biopsy, fine needle aspiration, or core needle biopsy may required to diagnose a neck mass which may have spread from the nasopharynx.
    • Types of Biopsy:
      • Surgical biopsy: In a surgical biopsy, the surgeon exposes the tumor through an incision and removes a piece of the tumor.
      • Core needle biopsy: A physician uses a large, hollow needle to remove a small piece of the tumor. A core needle biopsy or fine needle aspiration may be performed in the office.
      • Excisional biopsy: Removal of the entire tumor or suspicious mass. An excisional biopsy is performed in the operating room under general anesthesia.