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Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is a unique malignant head and neck cancer with clinical, demographic, and geographic features distinct from other head and neck epithelial malignancies. Non-keratinizing, poorly differentiated, and undifferentiated WHO types 2 and 3 is the most common subtypes of NPC. NPC is also characterized by its relatively high sensitivity to radiation, so that in the last decades radiotherapy (RT) has been the cornerstone of treatment. However, in the majority of cases NPC is discovered at locally advanced stage. The results are disappointing when RT alone is offered. The 5-year survival rates have been reported to be about 34-52%. The poor prognosis for advanced NPC led to increasing interests in exploring the use of chemotherapy (CT). NPC has been considered to be not only radiosensitive but also chemo-sensitive and has shown high response rate to various chemotherapeutic agents. Certainly, the treatment strategies for NPC will continue to change and evolve as a better understanding is gained of the molecular and immune mechanisms that drive this disease. We reviewed the current literature focusing on the role of CT and new-targeted agents.
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