NPC and Genetic Risk

Just this single month I attended two funerals of childhood friends who had suffered and died from nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) or nose cancer.

This is a cancer that I know well and have seen up close as my first wife had also died from this disease. I have talked to the cancer doctors about the incidence of this cancer among Sabah natives and they said that clinical records definitely show that it is common among Kadazans, Dusuns and other inland natives of Sabah. My observations from sitting many many times in the waiting rooms of cancer doctors attest to this fact. (Perhaps my FB friends here who are MDs can second me on this.) In short, Kadazans and Dusuns have a relatively higher genetic risk of being afflicted with this disease. Why is this? The theory is that the genetic risk was originally from South China populations, and since many Kadazans and Dusuns have old (and for many, new—their great great parents are from China) South China bloodlines they carry this risk too. (See link below for a scientific discussion of this.)

The point for me to share this info is this: If you are in this high genetic risk group, be extra careful and watchful: If you feel something is not right inside your nose (the internal space between the tip of your nose and your eyes—the nasopharynx) and it persists for weeks, go see an ENT doctor! They have strobes to look into the space and can see if something is growing there – the cancer.

I have friends who caught it early, and after treatment, are still alive today, but sadly, I have also friends who were diagnosed late and have passed away. The very dangerous thing about this NPC is this: even if the cancer has just spread (has affected the nearby lymph nodes) the sufferer most probably only experienced mild discomfort (and not pain) and thus would not really give a serious thought to aggressively find out about his/her sickness/proper diagnosis. In other words, the absence of pain can lure you into a false sense of wellness.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4013336/

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