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Hypopharyngeal Cancer

Hypopharyngeal Cancer Treatment at the Cancer Care Centers of Brevard

Different types of treatment are available for hypopharyngeal cancer. Some treatments are standard (currently used), and some are tested in clinical trials. A clinical trial is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with cancer. When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment. Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial.

Treatment options for hypopharyngeal cancer typically include radiation therapy, surgery, and therapies using a medication, such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy or immunotherapy. One or a combination of these types of treatment may be used to treat hypopharyngeal cancer. Surgery and radiation therapy are the most common treatments. Chemotherapy may be used before or during radiation therapy and/or surgery to increase the chance of destroying cancer cells.

Surgery to Remove Hypopharyngeal Cancer

Surgery is a common treatment for all stages of hypopharyngeal cancer. The following surgical procedures may be used:

  • Laryngopharyngectomy: Surgery to remove the larynx (voice box) and part of the pharynx (throat).

  • Partial laryngopharyngectomy: Surgery to remove part of the larynx and part of the pharynx. A partial laryngopharyngectomy prevents loss of the voice.

  • Neck dissection: Surgery to remove lymph nodes and other tissues in the neck.

After the doctor removes all of the cancer that can be seen at the time of the surgery, some patients may be given chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery to kill any cancer cells left. Treatment given after surgery to lower the risk of cancer coming back is called adjuvant therapy.

Radiation Therapy for Hypopharyngeal Cancer

Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. External radiation therapy uses a machine to direct radiation toward the specific area of the body with cancer.

Internal radiation therapy, called brachytherapy, is sometimes used if the cancer has returned. The radioactive material is placed directly into where there are cancerous cells.

Radiation therapy may work better in patients who have stopped smoking before beginning treatment. External radiation therapy to the thyroid or the pituitary gland may change the way the thyroid gland works. A blood test to check the thyroid hormone level in the body may be done before and after therapy to make sure the thyroid gland is working properly.

Therapies Using a Medication for Hypopharyngeal Cancer

Treatments using medication are used to destroy cancer cells. Medication may be given through the bloodstream to reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic therapy) or applied directly to the cancer (local therapy).

Medications are often given through an intravenous (IV) tube placed into a vein using a needle or as a pill or capsule that is swallowed (orally).

The types of medications used for hypopharyngeal cancer include:

  • Chemotherapy

  • Targeted therapy

  • Immunotherapy

Chemotherapy for Hypopharyngeal Cancer

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping the cells from dividing.

Chemotherapy may be used to shrink the tumor before surgery or radiation therapy. This is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Chemotherapy may also be given at the same time as radiation therapy. This is called concomitant chemoradiation.

Targeted Therapy for Hypopharyngeal Cancer

Targeted therapy is a type of cancer treatment that targets specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environments that control how cancer cells grow, divide, and spread. This type of treatment blocks the growth and spread of cancer cells and limits damage to healthy cells.

Because not all tumors have the same targets, your oncologist may run tests to identify the genes, proteins, and other factors in your tumor to determine the most effective treatment possible.

Immunotherapy for Hypopharyngeal Cancer

Immunotherapy is a type of biological therapy that helps your immune system fight cancer. It uses materials made either by the body or in a laboratory to improve, target, or restore immune system function.

Patients involved in clinical trials may receive immunotherapy in combination with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Head and Neck Cancer Treatment Available in Brevard County

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with hypopharyngeal cancer or another type of head and neck cancer, the experts at Cancer Care Centers of Brevard are ready to help. Our oncologists provide personalized treatment plans and second opinions. We have cancer centers located throughout Brevard County, including Melbourne, Rockledge, Merritt Island, Palm Bay, and Sebastian, FL.