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Tinnitus may be sign of cancer symptoms

Monday 26th November 2018
Tinnitus may be a sign of a rare form of throat cancer, new NHS guidance has stated.
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Tinnitus is in itself an irritating problem suffered by around ten per cent of the population, but it could also be a sign of cancer.

New NHS guidance on nasopharyngeal cancer has advised that developing tinnitus symptoms can be a sign of the condition.

Nasopharyngeal cancer is a rare kind of cancer that concerns one particular part of the throat that links the mouth to the nose. It is often hard to spot because symptoms indicating its presence can be mistaken for other issues.

Tinnitus is one of those symptoms, with a ringing in the ears usually having other explanations, such as eardrum damage or prolonged recent exposure to loud noises. 

The guidance said: “In the UK, about 250 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 cancer and oesophageal cancer.

“Many people with nasopharyngeal cancer don't have any symptoms until the cancer reaches an advanced stage."

Hearing loss is another symptom that can be associated with the condition, although a lump in the neck is a more obvious sign.

People of far eastern and north African origin are most at risk, as are those with a diet high in salt-cured meats, regular exposure to hardwood dust or a family history of the disease.
  
Although only around 250 cases of the disease are diagnosed in Britain each year - compared with millions suffering from tinnitus - this does mean those who start getting a humming, ringing, whooshing or whistling sound in their ears would be wise to get checked out by a doctor. 

For most people, the tinnitus will not be a sign of cancer - but the help of an audiologist can still make a big difference for sufferers, enabling them to cope better with the effects of the condition. These can include sleep deprivation and constant distraction. 
 
Written by James Puckle

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