Education Resources

Treatment Options for Hypopharyngeal Cancer

Different types of treatment are available for patients with hypopharyngeal cancer. Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some are being tested in clinical trials. Early hypopharynx cancer is often treated with surgery and/or radiation therapy. More advanced cancer may require a combination of treatments.

Treatments for cancer of the hypopharynx may include:

Your head and neck cancer doctor will recommend a treatment plan based on your stage, your general health, and whether the cancer has recurred. The recommended treatments may also change based on where the cancer is located to give the patient the best chance at keeping their ability to talk, eat, and breathe as normal as possible.


Surgery Options for Treating Hypopharyngeal Cancer

Surgery is often used to remove the tumor in the hypopharynx region of the throat. A few factors determine which type of surgery is used to treat this disease, such as the hypopharyngeal cancer stage, the exact location of the tumor, and if surrounding tissues have been affected. The goal for most of these surgeries is to remove all of the cancer and a small rim of healthy tissue around it.

For some early-stage hypopharynx cancers, surgery might be the only treatment that's needed, but it may also be used along with other treatments, like radiation or chemotherapy, for later-stage cancers.

Endoscopic Surgery

This type of surgery uses a thin tube with a light and a camera called an endoscope to look down the throat for the tumor. Your surgeon uses the help of the camera and long surgical instruments to biopsy and remove some early-stage hypopharyngeal cancers. Endoscopic surgery can be as effective as radiation therapy for early-stage hypopharyngeal cancers.

Vocal Cord Stripping

This surgical procedure can remove cancer and the top layers of tissue on the vocal cords. This is typically used for cancers or precancers on the surface of the vocal cords. Most patients are able to speak normally after this procedure.

Laser Surgery

Lasers can be used through the endoscope to remove the tumor. This procedure is sometimes called transoral laser microsurgery (TLM).

Total or Partial Pharyngectomy

This surgery removes all or part of the pharynx or the throat. During this operation, the larynx is often removed with the hypopharynx. After a pharyngectomy, you might require reconstructive surgery to rebuild the throat and improve your ability to swallow.

Radiation Therapy for Hypopharyngeal Cancer

This cancer treatment method uses high-energy radiation to kill or shrink cancer cells. External beam radiation is the most common type of radiation therapy used to treat hypopharyngeal cancer.

Chemotherapy for Cancer of the Hypopharynx

Anticancer medicines or drugs are used to shrink or kill cancerous cells and/or to reduce the spread of cancer to other parts of the body. The specific combination of medicines will depend on the location and stage of the disease as well as what works well for the patient.

Targeted Therapy to Treat Hypopharynx Cancer

This special type of systemic therapy is usually given in the same ways as chemotherapy. Targeted therapy takes advantage of the differences between normal cells and cancer cells by attacking only the cancerous cells and not the healthy ones. Currently, there is one targeted treatment (Cetuximab) approved for use in combination with radiation therapy for head and neck cancer that has not spread. Others are being tested in clinical research trials.

Immunotherapy for Cancer of the Hypopharynx

This treatment is designed to boost the body's natural defenses to fight the cancer. It uses materials made either by the body or in a laboratory to improve, target, or restore immune system function.


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woman with head and neck cancer doctor discussing a Hypopharyngeal treatment plan

Hypopharyngeal Cancer Treatment in the South Chicago Suburbs

If you have received a diagnosis of cancer of the hypopharynx and are seeking cancer treatment in the South Chicago suburbs, our oncologists offer the latest treatments for hypopharyngeal cancer and second opinions on treatment and diagnosis.

The hypopharyngeal cancer specialists at Affiliated Oncologists will help you determine the best treatment plan by working alongside a surgeon and radiation oncologist. We offer outcome-based treatment, and convenient and personalized care, at cancer centers in Chicago Ridge, Mokena, Joliet, Oak Lawn, Palos Heights, and Hazel Crest.