Head and Neck Surgery

About Cancer Of The Throat (larynx and pharynx)

Background

  • The larynx (voice box) is a part of the where voice is produced; air must also pass through this structure to get to the trachea (windpipe) before moving to the lungs.
  • The pharynx is the muscular tube through which food is passes from the mouth to the oesophagus when it is swallowed. It also surrounds the voice box.

Symptoms and Signs

  • Hoarseness
  • Blood stained sputum
  • Difficulty breathing caused by narrowing of the airway
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Persistent pain in the throat
  • Lymph node swelling in the neck

Assessment

  • Nasopharyngoscopy allows the nasopharynx to be visualised
  • CT, MRI or PET scans provide information about the size and spread of tumour
  • A biopsy of the tumour is required for diagnosis to be made.This usually needs to be done under general anaesthesia to allow a comprehensive assessment of the entire throat as well as the oesophagus.

Management

  • The treatment of cancer of the throat depends on the location, type and the degree of spread. Treatment modalities include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Treatment for the majority of throat cancers involve a combination of these modalities.