How to treat cancer of the oropharynx

Written by: Dr. Roberto Valdés Pons
Edited by: Top Doctors®

The oropharynx is the part of the throat that includes the soft palate, tonsils, pharynx posterior wall and base of the tongue.

Oropharyngeal cancer is rare with an incidence of approximately 123,000 cases diagnosed and about 79,000 deaths worldwide per year. The snuff and alcohol are the main risk factors for this cancer, but despite the decline in consumption of snuff, there is an increased incidence of this tumor especially in young adults. This increase is related to the appearance of the human papillomavirus (HPV).

The VHP related tumors appear mostly in the tonsil and base of the tongue and has a better prognosis than those who are not.

Symptoms and signs to warn of a possible oropharyngeal tumor disease are the appearance of white spots or red. At first these spots are painless. If the disease progresses, it appears painful swallowing or spontaneously. The good response to analgesic treatment should not lift the suspicious because the pain can be associated with inflammation or infection caused by the cancer itself. The pain will be more intense with the passage of time. In more advanced stages of the disease, there will be bleeding mouth (saliva with blood).


How to treat oropharyngeal cancer?

The treatment in the early stages (stages I and II) of disease is based on the use of surgery and radiotherapy. In the earliest stages of the disease may be used with surgery or radiation the same rates of local control and survival. The choice between each of the treatment modalities should be based on their availability and the effects that occur. Radiation therapy produces mainly dry well treated region altered taste. The surgical techniques can be minimally invasive and transoral laser microsurgery (TLM), transoral robotic surgery (TOR) and conventional surgery by transoral or mandibulotomy. The aftermath most frequently associated with the surgical treatment are hard to open your mouth or trismus, impaired swallowing (oropharyngeal dysphagia) and alteration of closing the nasopharynx by resection of the soft palate (palatal veil insufficiency). Glands in the neck should be treated as cancers often metastasize this location in the neck. If the primary tumor is treated with radiotherapy, the two sides of the neck are also treated with radiation. If treated with surgery dissection of the same side of neck tumor is performed, if it is lateral and bilaterally if the tumor affects reaches the midline.


Care to consider

It should be regular especially the first two years after completion of treatment. It is based on the exhaustive examination of the patient supported by imaging studies (CT, MRI).

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

By Dr. Roberto Valdés Pons

The prestigious specialist in Otorhinolaryngology, Dr. Valdés Pons is an expert in otology , head and neck surgery and vertigo , among others.

Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from the University of Santiago de Compostela in 1985, he lived in the Hospital 12 de Octubre in Madrid. With a long professional career, for more than 20 years, he has been the Head of the Otorhinolaryngology and Cervixofacial Pathology Service at the Povisa de Vigo Hospital . In addition, he has taught as a teacher in the Master of Biomaterials and Bio-Health Technology at the University of Vigo. Member of the main scientific societies at national and international level.

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

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