Treatments for hypopharyngeal cancer

If you have hypopharyngeal cancer, your healthcare team will create a treatment plan just for you. It will be based on your health and specific information about the cancer. When deciding which treatments to offer for hypopharyngeal cancer, your healthcare team will consider:

  • the stage of the cancer
  • the best way to maintain swallowing, talking and breathing
  • your overall health
  • what you prefer or want

Expert review and references

  • American Cancer Society. Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancers. 2014: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/laryngeal-and-hypopharyngeal-cancer.html.
  • Ferris, RL, Blumenschein G, Fayette J, Guigay J, et al . Nivolumab for recurrent squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. New England Journal of Medicine. 2016.
  • Hamoir M, Machiels JP, Schmitz S, Gregoire V . Multidisciplinary management of hypopharyngeal carcinoma. Bernier J (ed.). Head and Neck Cancer: Multimodality Management. Springer; 2016: 28: 511-537.
  • Kruser TJ, Pagedar NA, Hoffman HT, Harari PM . Cancers of the hypopharynx and cervical esophagus: general principles and management. Harrison LB, Sessions RB, Kies MS (eds.). Head and Neck Cancer: A Multidisciplinary Approach. 4th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2014: 19: 482 - 509.
  • National Cancer Institute. Hypopharyngeal Cancer Treatment (PDQ®) Health Professional Version. 2016: https://www.cancer.gov/types/head-and-neck/hp/hypopharyngeal-treatment-pdq.

Treatments for stage 1 and stage 2 hypopharyngeal cancer

Surgery and chemoradiation are the primary treatments for stage 1 and 2 hypopharyngeal cancer. Learn about treatments, including chemoradiation and neck dissection to remove lymph nodes.

Treatments for stage 3 hypopharyngeal cancer

The main treatments for stage 3 hypopharyngeal cancer are surgery, chemoradiation and radiation therapy. Learn about treatments, including chemoradiation and neck dissection to remove lymph nodes.

Treatments for stage 4 hypopharyngeal cancer

Treatment options for stage 4 hypopharyngeal cancer include surgery, chemoradiation, radiation therapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy. Learn about treatments for stage 4 hypopharyngeal cancer.

Treatments for recurrent hypopharyngeal cancer

Treatment options for recurrent hypopharyngeal cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy. Learn about treatments for recurrent hypopharyngeal cancer.

Surgery for hypopharyngeal cancer

Surgery may be used as a treatment for hypopharyngeal cancer if the normal function of the hypopharynx and the nearby organs (larynx and esophagus) can be preserved as much as possible.

Radiation therapy for hypopharyngeal cancer

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells. Many people with hypopharyngeal cancer have radiation therapy.

Chemotherapy for hypopharyngeal cancer

Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to treat cancer. It is a systemic therapy that circulates throughout the body and destroys cancer cells, including those that may have broken away from the primary tumour.

Targeted therapy for hypopharyngeal cancer

Targeted therapy is sometimes used to treat hypopharyngeal cancer. It uses drugs to target specific molecules (such as proteins) on cancer cells or inside them.

Immunotherapy for hypopharyngeal cancer

Immunotherapy is sometimes used to treat hypopharyngeal cancer. Immunotherapy helps to strengthen or restore the immune system’s ability to fight cancer. Immunotherapy is sometimes called biological therapy.

Follow-up after treatment for hypopharyngeal cancer

Follow-up after hypopharyngeal cancer treatment varies. Learn about scheduled follow-up appointments, and the tests and procedures that may be done.