Hypopharyngeal Cancer

The hypopharynx, commonly referred to as the throat or upper gullet, consists of the pyriform sinus, the posterior pharyngeal wall and the postcricoid area.

Tumors of the hypopharynx are frequently at an advanced stage at the time of diagnosis, and have the MOST ADVERSE PROGNOSIS of all head and neck SCCs. They tend to spread early to the lymph nodes and blood stream due to the extensive network of lymphatic channels (fine capillaries that drain tissue fluid) that surround the throat.

Symptoms

          Persistent throat pain
          Difficult or painful swallowing
          Sensation of food "stuck in the throat"
          Deep-seated ear pain
          Voice change
          Hard painless neck lump


Treatment

Early Stage Cancer (Stage I & II)

Early stage hypopharyngeal cancers may be treated with RADIATION THERAPY alone.


Advanced Stage Cancer (Stage Ill & IV)

More often, however, patients present with advanced stage disease, and are treated with COMBINED CHEMO-RADIOTHERAPY.

SURGERY is generally kept in reserve as a salvage procedure if there is evidence of residual disease after treatment.

This is because surgery for hypopharyngeal cancer is complex and morbid, requiring removal of the voice box as well, a radical procedure called a Pharyngo- Laryngo-Oesophagectomy (PLO). Reconstruction of the hypopharynx is equally complex, requiring either a refashioned stomach conduit, or free intestinal tissue transfer.

The Thyroid Head & Neck Surgery Centre