Hypopharyngeal Cancer and Cervical Esophageal Cancer

Hypopharyngeal Cancer and Cervical Esophageal Cancer

The hypopharynx is that part of the throat located behind the voice box (larynx). There are about 2500 new cases reported annually in the United States, making this one of the rarest cancers in the head and neck. Most are squamous cell carcinomas. Unfortunately, because these tumors tend to spread to the lymph nodes easily, many patients present to their physicians in an advanced stage of disease.

Cancers in the hypopharynx can spread and involve the highest portion of the esophagus (the cervical esophagus). The same factors that cause cancer of the larynx–smoking, excessive alcohol intake, and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection–are thought to play a similar role in the development of cancer of the hypopharynx. Chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may also be a factor in some patients.

Hypopharyngeal Cancer and Cervical Esophageal Cancer

Dr. Farrah has extensive experience treating hypopharyngeal and cervical esophageal cancer, and will provide you with the multidisciplinary, quality, compassionate care that you deserve. We will take care to minimize and manage treatment side effects like inflammation, trouble swallowing, and hoarseness.

Possible Signs of Hypopharyngeal Cancer

These and other symptoms may be caused by hypopharyngeal cancer. Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. A doctor should be consulted if any of the following problems occur:

  • A sore throat that does not go away
  • Ear pain
  • A lump in the neck
  • Painful or difficult swallowing
  • A change in voice
  • Noisy breathing or difficulty breathing

Hypopharyngeal Cancer and Cervical Esophageal Cancer2

Stage 0 hypopharyngeal cancer

In stage 0, abnormal cells are found in the lining of the hypopharynx. These abnormal cells may become cancer and spread into nearby normal tissue. Stage 0 is also called carcinoma in situ.

Stage 1 hypopharyngeal cancer

In stage 1, cancer has formed in one area of the hypopharynx only and/or the tumor is 2 centimeters or smaller.

Stage 2 hypopharyngeal cancer

In stage 2, the tumor is either:

  • Larger than 2 centimeters but not larger than 4 centimeters and has not spread to the larynx (voice box); or
  • Found in more than one area of the hypopharynx or in nearby tissues.

Stage 3 hypopharyngeal cancer

In stage 3, the tumor:

  • Is larger than 4 centimeters or has spread to the larynx (voice box) or esophagus. Cancer may have spread to one lymph node on the same side of the neck as the tumor and the lymph node is 3 centimeters or smaller; or
  • Has spread to one lymph node on the same side of the neck as the tumor and the lymph node is 3 centimeters or smaller and cancer is found:
    • In one area of the hypopharynx and/or is 2 centimeters or smaller; or
    • In more than one area of the hypopharynx or in nearby tissues, or is larger than 2 centimeters but not larger than 4 centimeters and has not spread to the larynx.

Stage 4 hypopharyngeal cancer

Stage 4 is divided into stage IVA, IVB, and IVC as follows:

In stage IVA, cancer:

  • has spread to cartilage around the thyroid or trachea, the bone under the tongue, the thyroid, or nearby soft tissue. Cancer may have spread to one lymph node on the same side of the neck as the tumor and the lymph node is 3 centimeters or smaller; or
  • has spread to one lymph node on the same side of the neck as the tumor (the lymph node is larger than 3 centimeters but not larger than 6 centimeters) or to lymph nodes anywhere in the neck (affected lymph nodes are 6 centimeters or smaller), and one of the following is true: cancer is found in one area of the hypopharynx and/or is 2 centimeters or smaller; or
    • cancer is found in one area of the hypopharynx and/or is 2 centimeters or smaller; or
    • cancer is found in more than one area of the hypopharynx or in nearby tissues, or is larger than 2 centimeters but not larger than 4 centimeters and has not spread to the larynx (voice box); or
    • cancer has spread to the larynx or esophagus and is more than 4 centimeters; or
    • cancer has spread to cartilage around the thyroid or trachea, the bone under the tongue, the thyroid, or nearby soft tissue.

In stage IVB, the tumor:

  • has spread to muscles around the upper part of the spinal column, the carotid artery, or the lining of the chest cavity and may have spread to lymph nodes which can be any size; or
  • may be any size and has spread to one or more lymph nodes that are larger than 6 centimeters.

In stage IVC, the tumor may be any size and has spread beyond the hypopharynx to other parts of the body.

Recurrent hypopharyngeal cancer

Recurrent hypopharyngeal cancer is cancer that has recurred (come back) after it has been treated. The cancer may come back in the hypopharynx or in other parts of the body.

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