Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is a malignant tumour of the squamous epithelium of the nasopharynx. It is very prevalent in S. China, where it is the commonest tumour in men and the second commonest in women.
The tumour is rare in most parts of the world, though pockets occur in N. and C. Africa, Malaysia, Alaska, and Iceland.
Multiple copies of EBV genome and EBV EBNA-1 antigen can be found in cells of undifferentiated NPC. Patients with NPC have high titres of antibodies against various EBV antigens.
Besides EBV there appears to be a number of environmental and genetic cofactors in NPC.
NPC usually presents late and thus the prognosis is poor.
In theory NPC can be prevented by vaccination.