Application of Artificial Intelligence for Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma Management - A Systematic Review

Wai Tong Ng, Barton But, Horace C W Choi, Remco de Bree, Anne W M Lee, Victor H F Lee, Fernando López, Antti A Mäkitie, Juan P Rodrigo, Nabil F Saba, Raymond K Y Tsang, Alfio Ferlito

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction: Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is endemic to Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, and, in 2020, 77% of global cases were diagnosed in these regions. Apart from its distinct epidemiology, the natural behavior, treatment, and prognosis are different from other head and neck cancers. With the growing trend of artificial intelligence (AI), especially deep learning (DL), in head and neck cancer care, we sought to explore the unique clinical application and implementation direction of AI in the management of NPC.

Methods: The search protocol was performed to collect publications using AI, machine learning (ML) and DL in NPC management from PubMed, Scopus and Embase. The articles were filtered using inclusion and exclusion criteria, and the quality of the papers was assessed. Data were extracted from the finalized articles.

Results: A total of 78 articles were reviewed after removing duplicates and papers that did not meet the inclusion and exclusion criteria. After quality assessment, 60 papers were included in the current study. There were four main types of applications, which were auto-contouring, diagnosis, prognosis, and miscellaneous applications (especially on radiotherapy planning). The different forms of convolutional neural networks (CNNs) accounted for the majority of DL algorithms used, while the artificial neural network (ANN) was the most frequent ML model implemented.

Conclusion: There is an overall positive impact identified from AI implementation in the management of NPC. With improving AI algorithms, we envisage AI will be available as a routine application in a clinical setting soon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-366
Number of pages28
JournalCancer Management and Research
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jan 2022


  • Auto contouring
  • Deep learning
  • Diagnosis
  • Machine learning
  • Neural network
  • Prognosis


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