Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Nasopharyngeal Cancer Anatomy

To better understand nasopharyngeal cancer, it helps to understand the anatomy of the throat and sinuses.

The pharynx is the upper throat. It begins at the back of the mouth and extends down to the larynx.

The pharynx contains the:

  • Adenoids
  • Base of the tongue
  • Soft palate
  • Tonsils
  • Uvula

Pharynx examples:
  • Normal pharynx in an adult
  • Normal pharynx in a child
  • Normal pharynx and epiglottis in child

Sinus Anatomy
The sinuses are open cavities inside the bones of the face. Sinuses are located between the eyes, under the cheekbones, and in the forehead. They are connected by small channels that run between the sinuses. Normally, the sinuses do not contain fluid. There are four main sinus cavities.

The four main sinuses include:
  • Frontal sinuses:
    • Located behind the eyebrows
  • Ethmoid sinuses:
    • Deep sinuses are located behind the eyes and over the nose
  • Maxillary sinuses:
    • Two sinuses are on either side of the nose, behind the cheekbones
  • Sphenoid sinus:
    • Located deep in the face, at the base of the brain

Last Updated: Dec 21, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Nasopharyngeal Cancer References
  1. Chao SS, Loh KS, Tan LK. Modalities of surveillance in treated nasopharyngeal cancer. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2003 Jul;129(1):61-4. [12869918]
  2. Ensley JF, Youssef E, Kim H, Yoo G. Locally advanced nasopharyngeal cancer. Curr Treat Options Oncol. 2001 Feb;2(1):15-23. [12057137]
  3. Rischin D, Corry J, Smith J, Stewart J, Hughes P, Peters L. Excellent disease control and survival in patients with advanced nasopharyngeal cancer treated with chemoradiation. J Clin Oncol. 2002 Apr 1;20(7):1845-52. [11919243]
  4. Wei WI. Nasopharyngeal cancer: current status of management: a New York Head and Neck Society lecture. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2001 Jul;127(7):766-9. [11448346]
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