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Oropharyngeal Cancer Treatment

General Information About Oropharyngeal Cancer

Oropharyngeal cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the oropharynx.

The oropharynx is the middle part of the pharynx (throat) behind the mouth, and includes the back one-third of the tongue, the soft palate, the side and back walls of the throat, and the tonsils. The pharynx is a hollow tube about 5 inches long that starts behind the nose and ends at the top of the trachea (windpipe) and esophagus (the tube that goes from the throat to the stomach). Air and food pass through the pharynx on the way to the trachea or the esophagus.

Most oropharyngeal cancers are squamous cell carcinomas. Squamous cells are the thin, flat cells that line the inside of the oropharynx.

Oropharyngeal cancer is a type of head and neck cancer.

Use of tobacco products and drinking too much alcohol can increase the risk of developing oropharyngeal cancer.

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn't mean that you will not get cancer. People who think they may be at risk should discuss this with their doctor. Risk factors include the following:

Possible signs of oropharyngeal cancer include a sore throat and a lump in the neck.

These and other symptoms may be caused by oropharyngeal cancer. Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. A doctor should be consulted if any of the following problems occur:

Tests that examine the mouth and throat are used to help detect (find), diagnose, and stage oropharyngeal cancer.

The following tests and procedures may be used:

Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.

The prognosis (chance of recovery) depends on the following:

Treatment options depend on the following: