Lower Throat Cancer

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Hypopharyngeal cancer happens when cancer cells form in the bottom part of your throat. If you've noticed changes in how you talk or breathe, or noticed a lump in your neck, you'll want to be checked for hypopharyngeal cancer.

Hypopharyngeal Cancer Treatment at UVA Health

At UVA Health, you'll find highly skilled experts who specialize in this type of head & neck cancer. Learn more about our expertise in treating head and neck cancers.

We'll tailor treatment based on your type of cancer and whether it has spread outside the throat. You may need:

  • Surgery
    • Laryngopharyngectomy (removes your voice box and throat lining)
    • Partial laryngopharyngectomy
    • Neck dissection (removes lymph nodes in your neck)
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Chemotherapy

What Is Hypopharyngeal Cancer?

Most hypopharyngeal cancers form in squamous cells. These are thin, flat cells lining the inside of the hypopharynx.

The hypopharynx is the bottom part of the pharynx (throat).

The pharynx is a hollow tube about 5 inches long. It starts behind the nose, goes down the neck, and ends at the top of the trachea (windpipe) and esophagus (the tube that goes from the throat to the stomach).

Air and food pass through the pharynx on the way to the trachea or the esophagus.

Who's at Risk?

Risk factors include:

  • Smoking tobacco
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Eating a diet without enough nutrients
  • Having Plummer-Vinson syndrome

Symptoms to Watch For

Growing tumors in the hypopharynx can quickly affect how you speak, breathe, and swallow.

The sooner we find cancer, the better we can treat it. You'll want to be checked for hypopharyngeal cancer or other condition if you have:

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