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Nasopharyngeal cancer mimicking otitic barotrauma in a resource-challenged center: a case report

Adekunle Daniel* and Ayotunde James Fasunla

Author Affiliations

Department of Otorhinolaryngology, College of Medicine and University College Hospital, PMB 5116, Queen Elizabeth Road, Ibadan, Oyo-State, Nigeria

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Journal of Medical Case Reports 2011, 5:532  doi:10.1186/1752-1947-5-532

Published: 31 October 2011



Nasopharyngeal cancer commonly manifests with cervical lymphadenopathy, recurrent epistaxis and progressive nasal obstruction. Neuro-ophthalmic and otologic manifestations can also occur. Isolated otologic presentations of nasopharyngeal cancer are rare and the diagnosis of nasopharyngeal cancer may not be foremost in the list of differentials.

Case presentation

We present the case of a 29-year-old Nigerian woman with bilateral conductive hearing loss and tinnitus after air travel. There were no other symptoms. The persistence of the symptoms after adequate treatment for otitic barotrauma necessitated re-evaluation, which led to a diagnosis of nasopharyngeal cancer.


Isolated otologic manifestations of nasopharyngeal cancer are rare in regions with low incidence of the disease. There is a need for it to be considered as a possible differential in patients presenting with bilateral serous otitis media.