Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancer Overview

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Treating Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancer TOPICS

How are laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers treated?

This information represents the views of the doctors and nurses serving on the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Database Editorial Board. These views are based on their interpretation of studies published in medical journals, as well as their own professional experience.
The treatment information in this document is not official policy of the Society and is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor.
Your doctor may have reasons for suggesting a treatment plan different from these general treatment options. Don’t hesitate to ask him or her questions about your treatment options.

About treatment

There is a lot for you to think about when choosing the best way to treat or manage your cancer. Often there is more than one treatment to choose from. Take time to think about all of the choices. Two things to take into account are the type of cancer and the stage (extent) of the cancer. But your age, your overall health, and your own preferences are also important.

Based on the stage of the cancer and your health, different treatment options may be used alone or together. You may have different types of doctors on your treatment team, for instance an ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT), a radiation oncologist, and a medical oncologist.

It’s often a good idea to get a second opinion, perhaps from a doctor who treats this type of cancer often. A second opinion can give you more information and help you feel better about the treatment plan you choose. Even if they don’t require a second opinion, almost all insurance companies will pay for one.

The main types of cancer treatment

Treatments for these cancers may include:

Sometimes 2 or more of these treatments are used together.

It is important to discuss all of your treatment options — their goals and likely side effects, with your doctors to help make the choice of treatments that best fits your needs. It’s also very important to ask questions if there is anything you’re not sure about. You can find some good questions to ask in the section “What are some questions I can ask my doctor about laryngeal or hypopharyngeal cancer?

If at all possible, the doctor will try to save your larynx and voice. Most experts do not recommend taking out all of the larynx unless there are no other options.

If it doesn’t look like the cancer can be cured, the goal of treatment might be to remove or destroy as much of the cancer as possible to delay its spread or return. Sometimes treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms. This is called palliative treatment.

No matter which type of treatment you get, it is important for you to understand the goals of treatment ahead of time. Be sure to discuss this with your doctor so you will have an idea of what to expect.

Last Medical Review: 04/08/2014
Last Revised: 01/13/2015