Hypopharyngeal cancer

Surgery

There are a number of different types of operations that can be used to remove hypopharyngeal cancer. The type of operation used will depend on the size and the location of the cancer.

How can I prepare for the surgery?

Your doctor will explain details of the surgery, general risks and side effects of surgery. Ask your doctor if you have questions. They may recommend:

  • stopping blood thinners (e.g. aspirin) before surgery to reduce the risk of bleeding

  • special stockings to reduce the risk of blood clots

  • early mobilisation (i.e. not staying in bed) to reduce the risk of blood clots and chest infection

  • antibiotics to lower the risk of wound infection.

If you smoke, it is important that you consider stopping smoking before starting treatment to help reduce the risk of infection and help you recover after your treatment.

 Surgical procedures 

The different options for hypopharyngeal cancer include:

TRANS-ORAL laser microsurgery

This is a minimally invasive approach to remove early hypopharyngeal cancers. 

download pdf

Hypopharyngectomy

This is removal of part of the hypopharynx via an open neck approach. 

download pdf

LARYNgopharyngectomy

This is the removal of all the larynx and pharynx. It is different to laryngectomy, where only the larynx (or part of it) is removed. 

download pdf

NECK DISSECTION

This involves removal of lymph nodes from your neck. This is important even when there is no sign of cancer in the lymph nodes on your scan, because there is a risk of microscopic cancer in the lymph glands of the neck.
download pdf

reconstructive surgery 

This may be considered if a large area of tissue is removed. This may involve taking tissue from another part of the body called a free flap repair. This operation is carried out by a surgeon who specialises in reconstructive surgery, your head and neck surgeon or another surgeon.
download pdf

TRACHEOSTOMY

A tracheostomy is used to create an opening in the trachea (windpipe) in the lower neck, where a tube is inserted to allow air to flow in and out, when you breathe. This is used as swelling after major head and neck surgery may affect your ability to breathe. The tracheostomy tube is usually removed within a week of surgery once normal breathing is possible.
download pdf

Feeding tubes 

  • A gastrostomy tube (called a PEG tube) goes through the skin and the muscles of your abdominal wall into the stomach. Gastrostomy is recommended if feeding is needed for a medium to longer time (months or years).
  • A nasogastric tube goes through the nose down into the stomach. Nasogastric feeding is used for short time (days or weeks).
download pdf  

Side effects of surgery

Treatment for hypopharyngeal cancer may lead to a number of side effects . You may not experience all of the side effects. Speak with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about treatment side effects.