Hypopharyngeal cancer

Introducing parts of the hypopharynx and it's functions

What is the hypopharynx?

The pharynx is the medical term for the throat. It has three parts:

  • nasopharynx (upper throat, behind the nose)

  • oropharynx (mid throat, including the tonsils)

  • hypopharynx (lower throat).

The hypopharynx, the lowest part of the throat, leads into the oesophagus, which is sometimes also called the gullet and is located behind the larynx (voice box).

What does the hypopharynx do?

The larynx, hypopharynx and oesophagus all work together to make sure food and liquids are directed to the stomach when you swallow. The epiglottis and the vocal cords close tightly when you swallow, blocking food entering the windpipe. The laryngeal muscles and nerves control the vocal cords and the swallowing action and may be damaged by cancers of the larynx and hypopharynx.

Introducing the hypopharynx and surrounding areas