Hypopharyngeal Cancer: Everything You Should Know

Hypopharyngeal Cancer
Hypopharyngeal Cancer

The base of the throat is where hypopharyngeal carcinoma first appears. It's a type of cancer that could spread quickly. Risk factors include chewing tobacco, smoking, and binge drinking.

The American Carcinoma Society estimates that between 2,000 and 4,000 instances of hypopharyngeal carcinoma are detected in the US annually. Although it starts in the throat's base, it can swiftly spread to other body areas.

Your doctor may suspect hypopharyngeal cancer if you have a lump in your neck, persistent throat pain, or changes in your voice. If diagnostic testing identifies hypopharyngeal carcinoma as your condition, your physician may recommend radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery.

You can read additional cancer information here, in addition to the details below.

What is hypopharyngeal cancer?

An uncommon kind of cancer called hypopharyngeal cancer starts in the hypopharynx or the bottom part of the throat. It is categorised as a form of head and neck cancer by experts. Laryngeal malignancies are not included.

The hypopharynx can develop cancer in three different areas:
  • post cricoid
  • posterior pharyngeal wall
  • piriform sinus
One or more of these areas may experience the development of cancer: By the time of diagnosis, 70% of instances of hypopharyngeal cancer had spread to the lymph nodes, with the remaining 95% of cases starting in the squamous cells—the thin, flat cells lining the hypopharynx.


Hypopharyngeal carcinoma symptoms can include:
  • chronic sore throat
  • vocal changes
  • ear pain
  • lump in the neck
  • trouble swallowing or discomfort when swallowing

What are the causes and possible risk factors?

The following variables raise the chance of hypopharyngeal cancer:
  • smoking
  • lack of nutrients in your diet
  • chewing tobacco
  • heavy alcohol use
  • Plummer-Vinson syndrome

What is the deadliest throat cancer?

Numerous malignancies can develop in different throat regions. Treatment for some is simpler than for others.

The stage of the disease at diagnosis and whether it has spread to other parts of the body are two major factors that determine how potentially fatal a throat cancer may be.

The oesophagus is one part of the throat with a bad prognosis. Five years after being diagnosed, fewer than 20% of patients with esophageal cancer are still alive, with stage 4 having the lowest survival rates.

Even with treatment, the survival rate for esophageal cancer is quite poor. Surgery sometimes results in a very poor quality of life and can cause major problems, even though its survival statistics are marginally higher than those without.

This is the reason it's crucial to have routine checkups with a doctor and to consult one should any worrying symptoms appear.

How is this cancer diagnosed?

A doctor may suggest the following tests if they believe you have hypopharyngeal carcinoma after reviewing your medical history and performing a physical examination:
  • CT scan
  • PET scan
  • barium swallow
  • esophagoscopy
  • bronchoscopy
  • MRI scan
  • endoscopy
  • biopsy
Physicians can confirm a diagnosis and determine the cancer's stage by utilising the data from scans and lab results from any tissues that have been obtained.

A higher stage is assigned to larger tumours or cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. In general, their prognosis is worse than that of previous phases.

Survival rate

If you have hypopharyngeal carcinoma, several factors may impact your prognosis or future. Among them are:
  • the cancer's stage and whether it has spread to other bodily regions
  • your age and overall well-being
  • if you smoke while receiving treatment
  • the location and size of any tumours
  • whether human papillomavirus (HPV) is present in cancer cells or not.
The prognosis for hypopharyngeal carcinoma is often better the earlier the disease is detected. Individuals diagnosed at an early stage have a 60% probability of surviving for five years. Less than 25% of people with larger tumours or cancer that has spread to other parts of the body will live for five years or less.

There is also a correlation between reduced survival rates and specific hypopharyngeal sites. Individuals whose cancer was found in the lateral wall of the pyriform sinus, for instance, had a higher survival rate than those whose tumours were found in the postcricoid region.

Everybody's experience with cancer is different, though. Based on their understanding of your medical condition and the way your cancer reacts to treatment, your doctor can offer a more tailored prognosis.


Hypopharyngeal cancer treatment options include:
  • surgery
  • radiation
  • chemotherapy
Your physician will recommend a customised course of care, frequently combining several of these therapies. Their advice will be determined by several criteria, such as:
  • the precise kind of cancer that you have
  • whether other bodily parts have been affected by cancer
  • the size and location of any tumours
  • how treatment for your cancer is received
  • your age and overall health
If you smoke, your doctor will probably advise you to stop as part of your treatment because smoking can raise the risk of treatment-related complications as well as the chance that the cancer will return.


Cancer of the hypopharynx appears in the base of the throat. If you have a lump in your neck, a persistent sore throat, or changes in the sound of your voice, your doctor may undertake a scan or biopsy to rule out cancer.

Your doctor may suggest surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy to treat hypopharyngeal carcinoma.

Reducing the risk of acquiring throat cancer can be achieved by abstaining from cigarettes and chewing tobacco. If you think you may be experiencing hypopharyngeal cancer symptoms, consult your physician. Your chances of a better outcome may increase the earlier you begin treatment.


How common is hypopharyngeal cancer?

Compared to tumours from other head and neck sites, hypopharyngeal cancers are an uncommon form of these diseases and are linked to a poorer prognosis. Tobacco and alcohol consumption are recognised risk factors, and most patients arrive at a later stage.

Can you get cancer of the larynx?

A condition known as laryngeal cancer occurs when cancerous cells develop in the tissues of the larynx. Situated in the throat, between the trachea and the base of the tongue, lies the larynx. The vocal cords, which are located in the larynx, vibrate and produce sound when air is directed against them.

Can throat cancer spread?

The throat and neck region is where throat cancer first appears. Tumours may become larger and malignant cells may eventually move outside of the throat and neck as the malignancy worsens. Metastatic carcinoma of the throat, also referred to as stage 4 throat cancer, is the name given to throat cancer at this advanced stage.

How is hypopharyngeal cancer diagnosed?

Your head and neck surgeon will use flexible fiberoptic endoscopy, a straightforward in-office technique, to see the hypopharynx. Tumour masses involving the hypopharynx can be seen with the use of a tiny, flexible scope that is placed inside the nose.

Can you die from laryngeal cancer?

A class of malignancies of the head and neck includes laryngeal cancer. Roughly 12,500 Americans receive a laryngeal cancer diagnosis each year. Every year, about 4,000 people pass away from it.

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