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Home / Learning About Throat Cancers /

Hypopharyngeal Cancer – Stages, symptoms and prognosis. Treatment options

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Hypopharyngeal Cancer – Stages, symptoms and prognosis. Treatment options

by LabexTrade

General Details About Hypopharyngeal Cancer

About the throat

The larynx, commonly called the voice box, is a tube-shaped organ in the neck. It lies at the top of the windpipe or trachea. The front walls stick out from the neck to form what most people call the Adam's apple.

The throat is important for breathing, talking, and swallowing. It consists of the vocal folds, also called vocal cords, which vibrate to make sound for speech production. Throughout breathing, the larynx opens like a valve to allow air to enter the lungs. During swallowing, the vocal folds come together and, with a flap of tissue called the epiglottis, safeguard the airway and avoid food from entering the lungs.
There are 3 parts of the throat:

  • Glottis. The middle area that holds the vocal folds.
  • Supraglottis. The location above the vocal folds.
  • Subglottis. The area below the singing folds that connects the throat to the windpipe.
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What is the hypopharynx?

The hypopharynx is the bottom part of the pharynx (throat),.

which is a hollow tube that is 5 inches long.

The pharynx begins behind the nose, decreases the neck (behind the voice box), and ends at the esophagus (the tube that goes from the throat to the stomach).

The pharynx functions as the passageway for air and food that are going to the voice box or the esophagus. 

Hypopharyngeal cancers are frequently named for their area, consisting of pyriform sinus, lateral pharyngeal wall, posterior pharyngeal wall, or postcricoid throat.

The majority develop in the pyriform sinus.

Hypopharyngeal cancer is an illness in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the hypopharynx.

Use of tobacco products and heavy drinking can impact the risk of establishing hypopharyngeal cancer.

Symptoms and signs of hypopharyngeal cancer consist of an aching throat and ear pain.

Tests that analyze the throat and neck are utilized to assist diagnose hypopharyngeal cancer and find out whether the cancer has spread out.

Specific factors affect diagnosis (possibility of recovery) and treatment alternatives.

Hypopharyngeal cancer is a disease in which deadly (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the hypopharynx.

Use of tobacco products and heavy drinking can impact the danger of establishing hypopharyngeal cancer.

Anything that increases your threat of getting a disease is called a threat aspect. Having a threat element does not mean that you will get cancer; not having threat factors doesn't indicate that you will not get cancer. If you believe you might be at risk, talk with your physician. Danger elements consist of the following:

  • Smoking tobacco.
  • Chewing tobacco.
  • Heavy alcohol usage.
  • Consuming a diet plan without sufficient nutrients.
  • Having Plummer-Vinson syndrome.

What are the signs of Hypopharyngeal Cancer?

Typical signs include:

  • Problem and/or discomfort with swallowing.
  • Inexplicable ear pain.
  • Hoarse voice.
  • Problem breathing.
  • Pain-free lump or mass on the neck.
  • Coughing blood.
Symptoms for hypopharyngeal cancer can vary from patient to patient and can frequently go unnoticed for some time. 

How is Hypopharyngeal Cancer detected?

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Your head and neck surgeon will locate the hypopharynx using a basic in-office treatment called flexible fiberoptic endoscopy. A little flexible scope is inserted into the nose to help visualize the tumor masses involving the hypopharynx.

Regional numbing medication is offered through the nose to make the treatment pain-free and comfortable for the patient. Further tests (CT scan, MRI or ANIMAL scans) may be needed to better identify the extent of the tumor. A biopsy is then generally carried out in the operating space under general anesthesia to verify the diagnosis and examine the tumor more closely.

What are the stages of hypopharyngeal cancer?

The stages of hypopharyngeal cancer are numbered 0 through IV.

Stage 0: Cancer is restricted only in the lining of the hypopharynx. There are no infected lymph nodes.

Stage I: The tumor is in the hypopharynx and is 2 centimeters (about 1/2 inch) or smaller in size. There is no spread to lymph nodes.

Stage II: The growth is either larger than 2 centimeters, but not larger than 4 centimeters (in between about 1/2 and 1 1/2 inches), and has not spread to the larynx (voice box), OR it is discovered in more than one area of the hypopharynx or tissues close by. There is no spread to lymph nodes.

Stage III: The tumor can be any size but is restricted to the throat, however the cancer has typically also infected a single lymph node on the very same side of the neck, and the lymph node is 3 centimeters (just over 1 inch) or smaller.

Stage IV: This stage is divided into Stage IVA, IVB, and IVC.

Stages IVA and IVB: This is a sophisticated stage in which regional disease and/or lymph node illness has actually spread out. The spreading may involve movement from the throat into nearby soft tissues, such as the voice box, the thyroid gland, or the carotid artery. Neck disease may have infected numerous lymph nodes or huge lymph nodes (over 6 centimeters; between 2 and 2 1/2 inches).

Stage IVC: The cancer has spread beyond the hypopharynx to other parts of the body.

What are the different treatment options?

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These cancers are typically harder to treat than laryngeal cancers. Because they don't cause symptoms when they're small, most are already at an advanced stage when they're diagnosed. 

Tumors in this area also tend to spread to the lymph nodes, even when there's no obvious mass in the neck. Because of this, treatment of the lymph nodes in the neck is frequently suggested.

Treatment choices depend on how big the tumor is or if it has spread to other parts of the body. It might consist of some or a combination of these depending on the level of the tumor:.

Surgical treatment.

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Surgical treatment is only needed if the growth returns after chemoradiation treatment. Surgery is likewise used on selective lesions. A neck dissection may be required to get rid of the nodes if the lymph nodes in the neck are affected.

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Radiation therapy.

Radiation therapy, including strength regulated radiation therapy, stops cancer cells from dividing and slows the growth of the tumor. Radiotherapy also damages cancer cells and can shrink or eliminate tumors. Strength regulated radiation treatment allows the use of more effective radiation dosages with less adverse effects than traditional radiotherapy methods. Radiation treatment involves 5-6 weeks of everyday treatments.

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Chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy is recommended for various reasons:.

Together with radiotherapy as an option to surgical treatment (called chemoradiation). After surgical treatment to reduce the threat of the cancer returning. To slow the growth of a tumor and control signs when the cancer can not be cured (palliative treatment).

Immunotherapy medications that can trigger the body's body immune system to combat the cancer.

Stage I hypopharyngeal cancers.

The main options for preliminary treatment of these cancers are surgical treatment with or without radiation to the lymph nodes.

Surgery includes getting rid of all or part of the pharynx (throat) along with lymph nodes on both sides of the neck (lymph node dissection). 

The throat (voice box) frequently needs to be removed also. Individuals who have a high possibility of the cancer returning (based on what's discovered throughout surgery) might then be treated with radiation or chemotherapy combined with radiation (chemoradiation).

Some patients with small tumors may get radiation as their primary treatment. 

The cancer is evaluated once again after the treatment is complete and if there's any cancer left, surgical treatment is done.

Stages II, III, and IV hypopharyngeal cancers.

One option to treat these cancers is surgical treatment to eliminate the larynx, lymph, and pharynx nodes in the neck. 

This is usually followed by radiation alone or radiation with chemo, especially if there's a high chance that the cancer will come back based upon what is found throughout surgery.

Another alternative is to be treated with radiation initially or both radiation and chemo (chemoradiation). 

If any cancer remains after treatment, surgical treatment can then be done to try to remove it.

A 3rd alternative is to get chemotherapy as the very first treatment, called induction chemotherapy. 

If the lymph nodes in the neck are still enlarged after treatment, surgery can be done to remove them (lymph node dissection).

Cancers that are too big or have actually spread out too far to be totally eliminated by surgery are frequently treated with radiation, usually integrated with chemo or cetuximab. 

Another option might be treatment with an immunotherapy drug, either alone or with chemotherapy. 

Sometimes, if the growth diminishes enough, surgical treatment of lymph nodes in the neck might be an option. 

But for numerous advanced cancers, the goal of treatment is often to slow the growth or stop of the cancer for as long as possible and to help eliminate any symptoms it might be triggering.

Many specialists agree that treatment in a clinical trial should be thought about for advanced stage hypopharyngeal cancers. 

By doing this patients can get the very best treatment available now and might likewise get the treatments that are thought to be even much better.

If you would like to join our FREE Post-Vocal Surgery Support Group, you can do so here: www.facebook.com/groups/labexsupportforlaryngectomee/ 

You  may want to check out our Youtube Channels as well: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa-6497yfIbbZbhUoqlKYvQ  

You can learn more about throat cancer surgeries in our other article here: https://labextrade.com/learn-more-about-the-different-throat-cancer-operations/ 

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