What Is Hypopharyngeal Cancer?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2019
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Hypopharyngeal cancer is a medical condition in which cancerous cells grow in the area of the throat where the voice box and the esophagus meet. This is both a rare form of cancer as well as a difficult form to diagnose. Some of the most common symptoms of hypopharyngeal cancer include swollen lymph nodes in the neck, a sore throat that spreads to the ears, and difficulty swallowing. Some of the potential causes include smoking, poor dietary habits, or chronic alcohol abuse. Any individualized questions or concerns about hypopharyngeal cancer should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

As hypopharyngeal cancer is a rare form of cancer, an accurate diagnosis is often delayed until after the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Owing to this, hypopharyngeal cancer is among the deadliest types of cancer affecting the head and neck. Nicotine use, excessive alcohol consumption, and poor dietary habits increase the risks of developing this form of cancer.

The first noticeable symptom of hypopharyngeal cancer is usually swelling of the lymph nodes on one or both sides of the neck. This is a common symptom of less serious medical conditions such as infection, so this important symptom is often overlooked. A sore throat that may extend to the ears is often mistaken for a sinus infection and not seriously considered as a possible symptom of cancer.


Swallowing may become difficult or impossible among those with hypopharyngeal cancer, frequently causing weight loss or other gastrointestinal issues. Heavy drinking and a chronically unhealthy lifestyle may contribute to the development of this form of cancer. It is important to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet in order to strengthen the body's natural immune responses to foreign invaders.

Some studies have indicated a potential link between many types of vitamin deficiencies and this form of cancer. Simple blood tests at a doctor's office can determine whether there are any such nutritional needs on an individual basis. Nutritional supplements may be recommended if a deficiency is found.

As the cancer spreads, surgery may be indicated in an attempt to remove the cancerous cells. In more advanced stages, radiation treatments or chemotherapy may become necessary in order to prolong the life of the patient. Severe side effects may be associated with these treatment options, so it is important for the patient to communicate effectively with the supervising physician in order to devise an individualized treatment plan.



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