Dr. Saba on Unique Characteristics of Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma

April 15, 2021
Nabil F. Saba, MD, FACP

Partner | Cancer Centers | <b>Winship</b>

Nabil F. Saba, MD, FACP, discusses some of the unique characteristics of nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

Nabil F. Saba, MD, FACP, director, Head and Neck Medical Oncology Program, Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, professor and vice chair for Quality and Safety, Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, adjunct professor, Department of Otolaryngology, Emory University School of Medicine, discusses some of the unique characteristics of nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

Nasopharyngeal cancer is a rare type of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma that occurs within the superior aspect of the pharyngeal mucosa, says Saba.

Nasopharyngeal carcinoma is associated with latent Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), particularly in areas where the disease is endemic, such as southern China, Southeast Asia, North Africa, and the Artic. Environmental factors, such as smoking, have also been found to increase a person’s risk of developing nasopharyngeal carcinoma, says Saba.

Not all patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma have EBV, so a significant unmet need in this disease is how to best manage patients with EBV-negative nasopharyngeal carcinoma, Saba explains. In addition to EBV-negative disease being less common overall, most clinical trials enroll patients with EBV-positive disease, concludes Saba.