Throat Cancer 
TREATMENT


What do we mean by 'Throat Cancer'? It is a colloquial umbrella term that encompasses several specific types of cancer in the neck. These include Nasopharyngeal Cancer, Oropharyngeal Cancer, Hypopharyngeal Cancer and Laryngeal Cancer. To read in more detail about any of these cancer types, click on the relevant links throughout this article. If none of these are the cancer type you're looking for, please explore the information about other types of Head and Neck Cancers.

 
IN THIS SECTION

Following a diagnosis of a cancer in the throat, your cancer care team will discuss the treatment options. This is a good time to consider if you would like a second opinion.

In general, the most suitable treatment will depend on many things including:

  • the type of cancer

  • its size and location

  • whether the cancer has spread

  • personal factors (e.g. age, general health and treatment history)

  • types of treatment available (and whether any clinical trials are available) 

  • ​your preferences for treatment

  • in the case of Oropharyngeal Cancer, whether the cancer is caused by smoking or HPV

It's important to note that 'Throat Cancer' is a colloquial umbrella term that is not usually used by medical practitioners. Instead, we talk about specific types of Head and Neck Cancer that occur in the throat, such as Hypopharyngeal, Nasopharyngeal, Oropharyngeal and Laryngeal Cancers. 

To more accurately discuss the treatment options for a cancer in the throat, it's best to refer to the specific cancer type. Below, you will find information about treating the main head and neck cancers that are sometimes referred to generally as 'Throat Cancer'.

The following summaries are brief introductions. You are encouraged to read more detailed information at the links in each section.
Nasopharyngeal Cancer
 

Nasopharyngeal Cancer is a type of throat cancer that forms in the nasopharynx, which is highest part of the throat —  in or behind the nose.
 

> Related link: Introduction to Nasopharyngeal Cancer
> Related link: Symptoms and tests for Nasopharyngeal Cancer

 

Treatment options

There are three treatment options for Nasopharyngeal Cancer:

  • Radiation Therapy is the main treatment for Nasopharyngeal Cancer.

  • Chemotherapy is usually given during radiation therapy for advanced stage cancers to help the radiation therapy work better. This is called concurrent chemoradiation. 

  • Surgery for Nasopharyngeal Cancer is not common because the area is difficult to get to and it is close to important nerves and blood vessels. But in some cases, surgery may be used, especially if the cancer returns after previous treatment with radiation therapy or chemoradiation. 

The different surgical options for Nasopharyngeal Cancer include:

  • Endoscopic sinus surgery 

  • Maxillary swing

  • Neck Dissection

> What are these operations? Read more here: Treatment for Nasopharyngeal Cancer


Oropharyngeal Cancer (including Tonsil Cancer)

Oropharyngeal Cancer is cancer that starts anywhere in the oropharynx. Your doctor may also call it by the part it has grown in, like tonsil or tongue base cancer.
 


> Related link: Introduction to Oropharyngeal Cancer
> Related link: Symptoms and tests for Oropharyngeal Cancer

 

Treatment options

Generally, people with curable Oropharyngeal Cancer may be offered one of two treatment options. These include:

  • Surgery — which depending on the pathology results, may need to be followed by a course of radiation therapy (adjuvant radiation therapy); either on its own or at the same time (concurrent) as chemotherapy.

  • Definitive radiation therapy — either on its own or at the same time as chemotherapy (concurrent chemoradiation) 

The different surgical options for Oropharyngeal Cancer include:

  • Trans-Oral Laser Microsurgery

  • Neck Dissection

  • Mandibulotomy

  • Free Flap Reconstructive Surgery

  • Tracheostomy

  • ​Feeding Tubes

> What are these operations? Read more here: Treatment for Oropharyngeal Cancer

Hypopharyngeal Cancer

​Hypopharyngeal Cancer refers to cancer that forms in the hypopharynx (lower part of the throat).


> Related link: Introduction to Hypopharyngeal Cancer
> Related link: Symptoms and tests for Hypopharyngeal Cancer

 

Treatment options

There are three treatment options for Hypopharyngeal Cancer:

  • Surgery — there are a number of operations that can be used to remove Hypopharyngeal Cancer. Some people with large or advanced Hypopharyngeal Cancer may require radiation therapy following surgery

  • Radiation therapy (with or without surgery) — This is usually given with chemotherapy (called chemoradiation)

  • Chemotherapy

The different surgical options for Hypopharyngeal Cancer include:

  • Trans-Oral Laser Microsurgery

  • Hypopharyngectomy

  • Laryngopharygectomy

  • Neck Dissection

  • Reconstructive Surgery

  • Tracheostomy

  • ​Feeding Tubes

> What are these operations? Read more here: Treatment for Hypopharyngeal Cancer


Laryngeal Cancer

The larynx (or voice box) is an organ in the front of the neck.
 

> Related link: Introduction to Laryngeal Cancer
> Related link: ​Symptoms and tests for Laryngeal Cancer

 

Treatment options

There are two broad categories of treatment for Laryngeal Cancers; surgery and radiation therapyChemotherapy is sometimes used at same time with radiation therapy (called concurrent chemotherapy).

  • Surgery — which depending on the pathology results, may need to be followed by a course of radiation therapy (adjuvant radiation therapy); either on its own or at the same time (concurrent) as chemotherapy.

  • Definitive radiation therapy — either on its own or at the same time as chemotherapy (concurrent chemoradiation) 

The different surgical options for Laryngeal Cancer include:

  • Laryngectomy

  • Partial Laryngectomy

  • Hypopharyngectomy

  • Laryngopharyngectomy

  • Neck Dissection

  • Reconstructive Surgery

  • Tracheostomy

  • Feeding Tubes

> What are these operations? Read more here: Treatment for Laryngeal Cancer

We encourage you to read the more detailed information on each cancer type at the links in each section. But if you would like to continue reading brief summaries of the different cancers that might be referred to as throat cancers, please see the links below.

IN THIS SECTION