People with early hypopharyngeal cancer may be treated with surgery and/or radiation therapy. If the cancer is more advanced, patients may have a combination of treatments. Even if surgery removes all of the tumor, there is a chance that some cancer cells remain and chemotherapy may be recommended.
Your oncologist 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 normally as possible.
- Surgery - removal of the tumor in the throat and/or lymph nodes or other tissue in the neck. The American Cancer Society lists several types of surgery options for treating hypopharyngeal cancer.
- Chemotherapy - the use of anticancer medicines or drugs 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.
- Radiation therapy - the use of high-energy radiation to kill or shrink cancer cells. External beam radiation is the most common radiation therapy used to treat hypopharyngeal cancer.
- Targeted therapy - a special type of chemotherapy is under clinical research for hypopharyngeal cancer that takes advantage of differences between normal cells and cancer cells. The targeted therapy only attacks the cancerous cells, while leaving the healthy ones alone.
Other new types of hypopharyngeal cancer treatments are being tested in clinical trials. Patients who may want to participate in a hypopharyngeal cancer clinical trial should talk with their cancer specialist at Arizona Oncology. You can also view Arizona Oncology's currently available clinical trials online.