We review the literature on nasopharyngeal carcinoma that has been published within the past 5 years. Nasopharyngeal carcinoma is a highly morbid disease, and survival is poor. Its management remains extremely difficult, not just for otolaryngologists but for radiation oncologists and medical oncologists, as well. A clear understanding of its etiology is still lacking, but nasopharyngeal carcinoma is widely suspected to be the result of both a genetic susceptibility and exposure to environmental factors or Epstein-Barr virus infection. With no clear cause, treatment is controversial. For example, an optimal radiation regimen has not been determined, reports in the literature regarding the role of chemotherapy for advanced disease are conflicting, and treatment of local recurrences is unsettled. Still, advances in immunologic research and chemotherapy offer hope for better control of the disease. We hope that our assessment of the recent literature will provide otolaryngologists with a more clear understanding of the etiology and management of nasopharyngeal carcinoma.
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