The pharynx is the organ that starts behind the nose and runs down the throat to the esophagus. It includes the soft palate, the base of the tongue and the tonsils. Its function is to allow the passage of air into the trachea and of food into the esophagus.
Cancer of the pharynx
Cancer of the pharynx may present with swallowing difficulties and pain when swallowing, radiating to the ears.
Sometimes, if the pathology has spread to the larynx, the discomfort may be nonspecific or associated with dyspnea or dysphonia.
Pharyngeal cancer can affect the cavum or rhinopharynx, which is the back of the nose, as well as the oropharynx (including tonsils), the back wall of the pharynx or the base of the tongue. Also to the hypopharynx, including pyriform sinuses, folds or cervical esophagus.
Diagnosis of pharyngeal cancer
Basically, the diagnosis of pharyngeal cancer is made by endoscopic examination and biopsy. Imaging tests, such as scans or magnetic resonance imaging, can help both in diagnosis and in delimiting the extent.
Treatment of pharyngeal cancer
The treatment of pharyngeal cancer will depend on each case. Open or transoral surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be used.