Hypopharyngeal Cancer

What is hypopharyngeal cancer?
Hypopharyngeal cancer is a type of head and neck cancer that affects the hypopharynx, which is the lower part of the throat (pharynx) that leads into the esophagus. 

What causes hypopharyngeal cancer?
It’s not clear what exactly causes hypopharyngeal cancer but several factors have been identified that increase the risk of developing it:

• Smoking tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars, and shisha (water pipe). Heavy smokers are most at risk
• Chewing tobacco
• Heavy use of alcohol
• Eating a diet low in nutrients

Having one or more of these risk factors does not mean that a person will definitely get hypopharyngeal cancer but can increase their chances of developing it.

What are the symptoms of hypopharyngeal cancer?
• Sore throat that lasts several weeks
• Ear pain
• Trouble swallowing
• Lump in the neck
• Change in voice or trouble speaking

How is hypopharyngeal cancer diagnosed?
In order to accurately diagnose and stage hypopharyngeal cancer, your physician may order the following tests:
• MRI scan to get a complete image of your throat and surrounding areas to determine whether there are any tumors or abnormal cells
• PET scan to find any malignant cancer cells
• CT scan to get a complete image of your throat and surrounding areas to determine whether there are any tumors or abnormal cells
• Fiber-optic  endoscopy for upper airway
• Esophagoscopy which is a small tube with a camera that is inserted through the nose or mouth to look for any signs of cancer in the throat or esophagus
• Biopsy to remove any tissue from the hypopharynx and examine closely under a microscope for any abnormalities
• Chest x-ray to detect any spread of the tumor to the lungs
• Head and neck x-rays

How is hypopharyngeal cancer treated at KHCC?
The treating physician will present the case to the MDC panel who will determine the right treatment for the patient depending on how much the cancer has spread throughout the body.

At KHCC, the treatment plan for hypopharyngeal cancer depends on many factors, such as the patient’s age, and the stage of the disease as well as the size of the tumor. Typically, treatment includes varying degrees of surgery, radiotherapy and some chemotherapy.

Primary voice restoration: In some treatment procedures for head and neck cancers, patients will experience a temporary loss of their voice, except for total laryngectomy where most lose their voice permanently. However the good news is the Head and Neck physicians at KHCC are the best in the region at performing a procedure known as Primary Voice Restoration and up to 90% of our patients recover their voice successfully.

At KHCC, hypopharyngeal cancer patients receive top quality care through a multidisciplinary team of head and neck cancer specialists that is entirely devoted to diagnosing and treating cancers of the head and neck.

Supportive Care
The Head and Neck multidisciplinary clinic works in close cooperation with other departments at KHCC so that hypopharyngeal cancer patients receive the most comprehensive care possible. Supportive care services at KHCC include: