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Hypopharyngeal Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI]

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http://cancer.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

Hypopharyngeal Cancer Treatment

General Information About Hypopharyngeal Cancer

Cancer of the hypopharynx is uncommon; approximately 2,500 new cases are diagnosed in the United States each year.[1] The peak incidence of this cancer occurs in males and females aged 50 to 60 years.[2] Excessive alcohol and tobacco use are the primary risk factors for hypopharyngeal cancer.[3,4] In the United States, hypopharyngeal cancers are more common in men than in women.[5] In Europe and Asia, high incidences of pharyngeal cancers, namely, oropharyngeal and hypopharyngeal, have been found among men in France, in the counties of Bas-Rhin and Herault; Switzerland, in the section of Vaud; Spain, in the Basque Country region; Slovakia, Slovenia, and India, in the cities of Bombay and Madras.[6] This cancer is extremely rare in children.[7]

Upper hypopharyngeal cancers appear to be associated more with heavy drinking and smoking, whereas the lower hypopharyngeal, or postcricoid, cancers are more often associated with nutritional deficiencies.[1,8] Although earlier reports from northern Europe, particularly from Sweden, indicated a link between Plummer-Vinson syndrome, which consisted of sideropenic anemia and epithelial changes of the aerodigestive tract, and other nutritional deficiencies in women, cases of hypopharyngeal cancer among women are currently more likely to be associated with excessive use of alcohol and tobacco, rather than with deficiency diseases.[2,9,10,11]

Anatomically, the hypopharynx extends from the plane of the hyoid bone above to the plane of the inferior border of the cricoid cartilage below. The hypopharynx is composed of the following three parts and does not include the larynx:

  • The pyriform sinus.
  • The postcricoid area.
  • The posterior pharyngeal wall.

The lymphatic drainage from the pharynx is into the jugulodigastric, jugulo-omohyoid, upper and middle deep cervical, and retropharyngeal nodes. In the United States and Canada, 65% to 85% of hypopharyngeal carcinomas involve the pyriform sinuses, 10% to 20% involve the posterior pharyngeal wall, and 5% to 15% involve the postcricoid area.[12] Pyriform sinus and postcricoid carcinomas are typically flat plaques with raised edges and superficial ulceration. In contrast, posterior hypopharyngeal wall tumors tend to be exophytic and are often large (i.e., 80% >5 cm) at presentation.[13] Hypopharyngeal carcinomas tend to spread within the mucosa, beneath intact epithelium, and are prone to skip metastasis and to resurface at various locations remote from the primary site.[1,13] Because of this fact and the abundant lymphatic network of the region, a localized hypopharyngeal tumor is the exception.[1]

Almost all hypopharyngeal cancers are mucosal squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs).[1] Multiple primary tumors are not uncommon. Approximately 25% of patients in a retrospective study of 150 cases were found to have second primary tumors.[14] Field cancerization may be responsible, in part, for the multiple, synchronous, primary malignant neoplasms that occur in patients with hypopharyngeal cancer.[1,14,15,16] The concept of field cancerization, originally described in 1953, proposes that tumors develop in a multifocal fashion within a field of tissue that has been chronically exposed to carcinogens.[17]

Clinically, cancers of the hypopharynx tend to be aggressive and demonstrate a natural history that is characterized by diffuse local spread, early metastasis, and a relatively high rate of distant spread. More than 50% of patients with hypopharyngeal cancer have clinically positive cervical nodes at the time of presentation. In 50% of these individuals, a neck mass is the presenting symptom.[2,18,19] In a retrospective study of 78 cases of hypopharyngeal cancer, other symptoms in addition to a neck mass (25.6%) included dysphagia (46.1%), odynophagia (44.8%), voice change (16.3%), and otalgia (14.2%).[2] A voice change due to pyriform sinus or postcricoid lesions is a late symptom that usually indicates invasion into the larynx or the recurrent laryngeal nerve.[1]

In a large, retrospective study of patients with SCC of the larynx and hypopharynx, 87% of patients with pyriform sinus SCC were found to have stage III or stage IV disease; 82% of patients with SCC of the posterior pharyngeal wall were found to have stage III or stage IV disease.[20] As many as 17% of hypopharyngeal SCCs may be associated with distant metastases when clinically diagnosed.[20] This is quite different from the rate of distant metastasis detected at autopsy, which has been reported to be as much as 60%.[21] A relatively high incidence of delayed regional (i.e., 2 or more years after completion of primary therapy) and distant metastatic disease in hypopharyngeal SCC is related to the advanced stage of the disease at diagnosis. Almost 33% of pyriform sinus tumors may be associated with delayed regional metastases.[20]

The treatment of hypopharyngeal cancer is controversial, in part because of its low incidence and the inherent difficulty in conducting adequately powered, prospective, randomized clinical studies.[22] Therefore, it is difficult to define the ideal therapy for a specific site or stage of hypopharyngeal cancer. In general, both surgery and radiation therapy are the mainstays of most curative efforts aimed at this cancer. In recent years, chemotherapy has been added to the treatment strategies for selected advanced presentations of hypopharyngeal cancer.[23] In pyriform sinus cancer, neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by radiation therapy may afford larynx preservation without jeopardizing survival.[24]

Chronic pulmonary and hepatic diseases related to the excessive use of tobacco and alcohol are found in patients with hypopharyngeal cancer. Recognition of these comorbidities is essential in the formulation of an appropriate treatment plan.[1] The primary prognostic factors for hypopharyngeal SCC are the following:[1,25,26]

  • Stage.
  • Age.
  • Performance status.

Factors that contribute to an overall poor prognosis with hypopharyngeal SCC include the following:

  • Presentation at a late stage.
  • Multisite involvement within the hypopharynx.
  • Unrestricted soft-tissue tumor growth.
  • An extensive regional lymphatic network allowing development of metastases.
  • Restricted surgical options for complete resection.

In many patients, a poor prognosis is related to poor overall health.[13] The most common cause of failure of treatment of the primary tumor is local and/or regional recurrence. Most treatment failures occur within the first 2 years following definitive therapy. The burden of lymph node metastases may yield information of prognostic value. In a retrospective study, a total volume of metastatic disease of more than 100 cm3 indicated a particularly poor prognosis.[25]

In addition to the risk of delayed regional metastases, the risk of developing a second primary tumor in patients with tumors of the upper aerodigestive tract has been estimated to be 4% to 7% per year.[20,26,27,28] Because of these risks, surveillance of patients with hypopharyngeal cancer should be lifelong.

To date, SCC of the hypopharynx has not been associated with any specific chromosomal or genetic abnormalities;[13] however, loss of chromosome 18 was observed in 57% of hypopharyngeal tumors in one study.[29] Several other studies have emphasized the importance of chromosome 11q13 amplification, which may be related to the presence of nodal metastases, greater local aggressiveness, and a higher incidence of tumor recurrence.[30,31,32,33]

References:

1. Mendenhall WM, Werning JW, Pfister DG: Treatment of head and neck cancer. In: DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011, pp 729-80.
2. Uzcudun AE, Bravo Fernández P, Sánchez JJ, et al.: Clinical features of pharyngeal cancer: a retrospective study of 258 consecutive patients. J Laryngol Otol 115 (2): 112-8, 2001.
3. Blot WJ, McLaughlin JK, Winn DM, et al.: Smoking and drinking in relation to oral and pharyngeal cancer. Cancer Res 48 (11): 3282-7, 1988.
4. Day GL, Blot WJ, Shore RE, et al.: Second cancers following oral and pharyngeal cancers: role of tobacco and alcohol. J Natl Cancer Inst 86 (2): 131-7, 1994.
5. Canto MT, Devesa SS: Oral cavity and pharynx cancer incidence rates in the United States, 1975-1998. Oral Oncol 38 (6): 610-7, 2002.
6. Franceschi S, Bidoli E, Herrero R, et al.: Comparison of cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx worldwide: etiological clues. Oral Oncol 36 (1): 106-15, 2000.
7. Siddiqui F, Sarin R, Agarwal JP, et al.: Squamous carcinoma of the larynx and hypopharynx in children: a distinct clinical entity? Med Pediatr Oncol 40 (5): 322-4, 2003.
8. WYNDER EL, HULTBERG S, JACOBSSON F, et al.: Environmental factors in cancer of the upper alimentary tract; a Swedish study with special reference to Plummer-Vinson (Paterson-Kelly) syndrome. Cancer 10 (3): 470-87, 1957 May-Jun.
9. Ahlbom HE: Simple achlorhydric anaemia, Plummer-Vinson syndrome, and carcinoma of the mouth, pharynx, and oesophagus in women. Br Med J 2 (3945): 331-3, 1936.
10. Larsson LG, Sandström A, Westling P: Relationship of Plummer-Vinson disease to cancer of the upper alimentary tract in Sweden. Cancer Res 35 (11 Pt. 2): 3308-16, 1975.
11. Amos A: Women and smoking. Br Med Bull 52 (1): 74-89, 1996.
12. Barnes L, Johnson JT: Pathologic and clinical considerations in the evaluation of major head and neck specimens resected for cancer. Part I. Pathol Annu 21 Pt 1: 173-250, 1986.
13. Helliwell TR: acp Best Practice No 169. Evidence based pathology: squamous carcinoma of the hypopharynx. J Clin Pathol 56 (2): 81-5, 2003.
14. Raghavan U, Quraishi S, Bradley PJ: Multiple primary tumors in patients diagnosed with hypopharyngeal cancer. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 128 (3): 419-25, 2003.
15. Tabor MP, Brakenhoff RH, van Houten VM, et al.: Persistence of genetically altered fields in head and neck cancer patients: biological and clinical implications. Clin Cancer Res 7 (6): 1523-32, 2001.
16. Braakhuis BJ, Tabor MP, Kummer JA, et al.: A genetic explanation of Slaughter's concept of field cancerization: evidence and clinical implications. Cancer Res 63 (8): 1727-30, 2003.
17. Slaughter DP, Southwick HW, Smejkal W: Field cancerization in oral stratified squamous epithelium: clinical implications of multicentric origin. Cancer 6 (5): 963-8, 1953.
18. Horwitz SD, Caldarelli DD, Hendrickson FR: Treatment of carcinoma of the hypopharynx. Head Neck Surg 2 (2): 107-11, 1979 Nov-Dec.
19. Keane TJ: Carcinoma of the hypopharynx. J Otolaryngol 11 (4): 227-31, 1982.
20. Spector JG, Sessions DG, Haughey BH, et al.: Delayed regional metastases, distant metastases, and second primary malignancies in squamous cell carcinomas of the larynx and hypopharynx. Laryngoscope 111 (6): 1079-87, 2001.
21. Kotwall C, Sako K, Razack MS, et al.: Metastatic patterns in squamous cell cancer of the head and neck. Am J Surg 154 (4): 439-42, 1987.
22. Godballe C, Jørgensen K, Hansen O, et al.: Hypopharyngeal cancer: results of treatment based on radiation therapy and salvage surgery. Laryngoscope 112 (5): 834-8, 2002.
23. Hinerman RW, Amdur RJ, Mendenhall WM, et al.: Hypopharyngeal carcinoma. Curr Treat Options Oncol 3 (1): 41-9, 2002.
24. Lefebvre JL, Chevalier D, Luboinski B, et al.: Larynx preservation in pyriform sinus cancer: preliminary results of a European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer phase III trial. EORTC Head and Neck Cancer Cooperative Group. J Natl Cancer Inst 88 (13): 890-9, 1996.
25. Jakobsen J, Hansen O, Jørgensen KE, et al.: Lymph node metastases from laryngeal and pharyngeal carcinomas--calculation of burden of metastasis and its impact on prognosis. Acta Oncol 37 (5): 489-93, 1998.
26. Khuri FR, Lippman SM, Spitz MR, et al.: Molecular epidemiology and retinoid chemoprevention of head and neck cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst 89 (3): 199-211, 1997.
27. Pfister DG, Shaha AR, Harrison LB: The role of chemotherapy in the curative treatment of head and neck cancer. Surg Oncol Clin N Am 6 (4): 749-68, 1997.
28. León X, Quer M, Diez S, et al.: Second neoplasm in patients with head and neck cancer. Head Neck 21 (3): 204-10, 1999.
29. Poetsch M, Kleist B, Lorenz G, et al.: Different numerical chromosomal aberrations detected by FISH in oropharyngeal, hypopharyngeal and laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma. Histopathology 34 (3): 234-40, 1999.
30. Meredith SD, Levine PA, Burns JA, et al.: Chromosome 11q13 amplification in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Association with poor prognosis. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 121 (7): 790-4, 1995.
31. Muller D, Millon R, Velten M, et al.: Amplification of 11q13 DNA markers in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas: correlation with clinical outcome. Eur J Cancer 33 (13): 2203-10, 1997.
32. Rodrigo JP, García LA, Ramos S, et al.: EMS1 gene amplification correlates with poor prognosis in squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck. Clin Cancer Res 6 (8): 3177-82, 2000.
33. Rodrigo JP, González MV, Lazo PS, et al.: Genetic alterations in squamous cell carcinomas of the hypopharynx with correlations to clinicopathological features. Oral Oncol 38 (4): 357-63, 2002.

Cellular Classification of Hypopharyngeal Cancer

Almost all hypopharyngeal cancers are epithelial in origin, predominantly squamous cell (i.e., epidermoid) carcinomas (SCCs), and may be preceded by various precancerous lesions.[1,2] Rare types of hypopharyngeal carcinomas include the following:

  • Basaloid squamoid carcinomas.
  • Spindle-cell (i.e., sarcomatoid) carcinomas.
  • Small-cell carcinomas.
  • Nasopharyngeal-type undifferentiated carcinomas (i.e., lymphoepitheliomas).
  • Carcinomas of the minor salivary glands.

Nonepithelial tumors, including lymphomas, sarcomas, and melanomas, require separate consideration and are not included in the staging and treatment options discussed in this summary.[1,3,4,5,6,7,8]

Invasive SCCs are usually moderately differentiated or poorly differentiated and invariably stain positively for keratin.[1]In situ carcinoma is often seen adjacent to invasive SCC.[1,9]

The term, leukoplakia, should be used only as a clinically descriptive term meaning that the observer sees a white patch that does not rub off, the significance of which depends on the histologic findings.[10] Based on this description, leukoplakia can range from hyperkeratosis to an actual early invasive carcinoma or may represent only a fungal infection, lichen planus, or other benign oral disease.

References:

1. Oral cavity and oropharynx. In: Rosai J, ed.: Ackerman's Surgical Pathology. 8th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby, 1996, pp 223-55.
2. Mendenhall WM, Werning JW, Pfister DG: Treatment of head and neck cancer. In: DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011, pp 729-80.
3. Ibrahim NB, Briggs JC, Corbishley CM: Extrapulmonary oat cell carcinoma. Cancer 54 (8): 1645-61, 1984.
4. Stanley RJ, Weiland LH, DeSanto LW, et al.: Lymphoepithelioma (undifferentiated carcinoma) of the laryngohypopharynx. Laryngoscope 95 (9 Pt 1): 1077-81, 1985.
5. McKay MJ, Bilous AM: Basaloid-squamous carcinoma of the hypopharynx. Cancer 63 (12): 2528-31, 1989.
6. Frank DK, Cheron F, Cho H, et al.: Nonnasopharyngeal lymphoepitheliomas (undifferentiated carcinomas) of the upper aerodigestive tract. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol 104 (4 Pt 1): 305-10, 1995.
7. Olsen KD, Lewis JE, Suman VJ: Spindle cell carcinoma of the larynx and hypopharynx. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 116 (1): 47-52, 1997.
8. Lengyel E, Gilde K, Remenár E, et al.: Malignant mucosal melanoma of the head and neck. Pathol Oncol Res 9 (1): 7-12, 2003.
9. Helliwell TR: acp Best Practice No 169. Evidence based pathology: squamous carcinoma of the hypopharynx. J Clin Pathol 56 (2): 81-5, 2003.
10. Neville BW, Day TA: Oral cancer and precancerous lesions. CA Cancer J Clin 52 (4): 195-215, 2002 Jul-Aug.

Stage Information for Hypopharyngeal Cancer

The staging systems are all clinical staging and are based on the best possible estimate of the extent of disease before treatment. The assessment of the primary tumor is based on inspection and palpation, when possible, and by both indirect mirror examination and direct endoscopy. The tumor must be confirmed histologically, and any other pathologic data obtained from a biopsy may be included. Additional radiographic studies may be included. As an adjunct to clinical examination, computed tomography and/or magnetic resonance imaging are needed for an accurate staging of laryngeal and hypopharyngeal carcinomas because both cross-sectional imaging modalities are known to reliably evaluate deep tumor infiltration.[1,2,3] The appropriate nodal drainage areas are examined by careful palpation. If a patient relapses, complete restaging must be done to select the appropriate additional therapy.

Definitions of TNM

The American Joint Committee on Cancer has designated staging by TNM classification to define hypopharyngeal cancer.[4]

Table 1. Primary Tumor (T)a

a Reprinted with permission from AJCC: Pharynx. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 41-56.
b Central compartment soft tissue includes prelaryngeal strap muscles and subcutaneous fat.
TX Primary tumor cannot be assessed.
T0 No evidence of primary tumor.
Tis Carcinomain situ.
Hypopharynx
T1 Tumor limited to 1 subsite of hypopharynx and/or ≤2 cm in greatest dimension.
T2 Tumor invades >1 subsite of hypopharynx or an adjacent site, or measures >2 cm but not >4 cm in greatest dimension without fixation of hemilarynx.
T3 Tumor >4 cm in greatest dimension or with fixation of hemilarynx or extension to esophagus.
T4a Moderately advanced local disease.
Tumor invades thyroid/cricoid cartilage, hyoid bone, thyroid gland, or central compartment soft tissue.b
T4b Very advanced local disease.
Tumor invades prevertebral fascia, encases carotid artery, or involves mediastinal structures.

Table 2. Regional Lymph Nodes (N)a, b

Oropharynx and Hypopharynx
a Reprinted with permission from AJCC: Pharynx. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 41-56.
b Metastases at level VII are considered regional lymph node metastases.
NX Regional lymph nodes cannot be assessed.
N0 No regional lymph node metastasis.
N1 Metastasis in a single ipsilateral lymph node, ≤3 cm in greatest dimension.
N2 Metastases in a single ipsilateral lymph node, >3 cm but ≤6 cm in greatest dimension, or in multiple ipsilateral lymph nodes, none >6 cm in greatest dimension, or in bilateral or contralateral lymph nodes, none >6 cm in greatest dimension.
N2a Metastasis in a single ipsilateral lymph node >3 cm but ≤6 cm in greatest dimension.
N2b Metastases in multiple ipsilateral lymph nodes, none >6 cm in greatest dimension.
N2c Metastases in bilateral or contralateral lymph nodes, none >6 cm in greatest dimension.
N3 Metastasis in a lymph node >6 cm in greatest dimension.

Table 3. Distant Metastasis (M)a

a Reprinted with permission from AJCC: Pharynx. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 41-56.
M0 No distant metastasis.
M1 Distant metastasis.

Table 4. Anatomic Stage/Prognostic Groupsa

Stage T N M
Oropharynx, Hypopharynx
a Reprinted with permission from AJCC: Pharynx. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 41-56.
0 Tis N0 M0
I T1 N0 M0
II T2 N0 M0
III T3 N0 M0
T1 N1 M0
T2 N1 M0
T3 N1 M0
IVA T4a N0 M0
T4a N1 M0
T1 N2 M0
T2 N2 M0
T3 N2 M0
T4a N2 M0
IVB T4b Any N M0
Any T N3 M0
IVC Any T Any N M1

References:

1. Thabet HM, Sessions DG, Gado MH, et al.: Comparison of clinical evaluation and computed tomographic diagnostic accuracy for tumors of the larynx and hypopharynx. Laryngoscope 106 (5 Pt 1): 589-94, 1996.
2. Becker M: Larynx and hypopharynx. Radiol Clin North Am 36 (5): 891-920, vi, 1998.
3. Keberle M, Kenn W, Hahn D: Current concepts in imaging of laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancer. Eur Radiol 12 (7): 1672-83, 2002.
4. Pharynx. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 41-56.

Treatment Option Overview

Hypopharyngeal cancer usually does not give rise to symptoms until late in the course of the disease. Because of this and the high incidence of early metastasis, survival rates for carcinoma of the hypopharynx are perhaps the lowest of all cancer sites in the head and neck.

No single therapeutic regimen offers a clear-cut superior survival advantage over other regimens. Although the literature highlights various therapeutic options, few reports present any valid comparative studies. The ultimate therapeutic choice will depend on a careful review of each individual case, paying attention to the staging of the neoplasm, the general physical condition of the patient, the emotional status of the patient, the experience of the treating team, and the available treatment facilities.[1,2]

Except for very early stage (T1) cancers of this region, treatment has primarily been surgery, usually followed with postoperative radiation therapy (PORT). Some early stage (T1 and T2), low-volume, exophytic pyriform sinus carcinomas have been successfully treated with radiation alone.[3,4,5] Single-modality therapy of advanced-stage hypopharyngeal cancer, with either surgery or radiation therapy, has resulted in consistently poor survival.[6,7,8] Combined-modality treatment should be considered for patients who present with stage III or stage IV disease.[4,6,9,10] When used in conjunction with surgery, radiation therapy is typically administered postoperatively. Alternative strategies using neoadjuvant chemotherapy and radiation therapy may increase the chance for local control in selected advanced presentations to a level approaching that of resection and PORT.[4] In addition, combined chemotherapy and radiation therapy may offer better tumor control with organ preservation than does radiation therapy alone.[11,12,13] Patients with stage III and advanced resectable stage IV cancer should be considered for a larynx preservation approach including neoadjuvant chemotherapy and radiation therapy.[14,15,16]

A review of published clinical results of radical radiation therapy for head and neck cancer suggests a significant loss of local control when the administration of radiation therapy was prolonged; therefore, lengthening of standard treatment schedules should be avoided whenever possible.[17,18] Chronic pulmonary and hepatic diseases related to excessive tobacco and alcohol use are common in patients with head and neck cancer; recognition of these comorbidities is essential to the formulation of an appropriate treatment plan.[6] Patients who smoke during radiation therapy appear to have lower response rates and shorter survival durations than those who do not;[19] consequently, patients should be counseled to stop smoking before beginning radiation therapy. Accumulating evidence has demonstrated a high incidence (i.e., >30%–40%) of hypothyroidism in patients who have received external-beam radiation therapy to the entire thyroid gland or to the pituitary gland. Thyroid function testing of patients should be considered prior to therapy and as part of posttreatment follow-up.[20,21]

References:

1. Thawley SE, Panje WR, Batsakis JG, et al., eds.: Comprehensive Management of Head and Neck Tumors. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders, 1999.
2. Murthy AK, Galinsky D, Hendrickson FR: Hypopharynx. In: Laramore GE, ed.: Radiation Therapy of Head and Neck Cancer. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1989, pp 107-24.
3. Pameijer FA, Mancuso AA, Mendenhall WM, et al.: Evaluation of pretreatment computed tomography as a predictor of local control in T1/T2 pyriform sinus carcinoma treated with definitive radiotherapy. Head Neck 20 (2): 159-68, 1998.
4. Hinerman RW, Amdur RJ, Mendenhall WM, et al.: Hypopharyngeal carcinoma. Curr Treat Options Oncol 3 (1): 41-9, 2002.
5. Mendenhall WM, Parsons JT, Stringer SP, et al.: Radiotherapy alone or combined with neck dissection for T1-T2 carcinoma of the pyriform sinus: an alternative to conservation surgery. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 27 (5): 1017-27, 1993.
6. Mendenhall WM, Werning JW, Pfister DG: Treatment of head and neck cancer. In: DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011, pp 729-80.
7. Godballe C, Jørgensen K, Hansen O, et al.: Hypopharyngeal cancer: results of treatment based on radiation therapy and salvage surgery. Laryngoscope 112 (5): 834-8, 2002.
8. Johansen LV, Grau C, Overgaard J: Hypopharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma--treatment results in 138 consecutively admitted patients. Acta Oncol 39 (4): 529-36, 2000.
9. Spector JG, Sessions DG, Emami B, et al.: Squamous cell carcinoma of the pyriform sinus: a nonrandomized comparison of therapeutic modalities and long-term results. Laryngoscope 105 (4 Pt 1): 397-406, 1995.
10. Jones AS, Stell PM: Squamous carcinoma of the posterior pharyngeal wall. Clin Otolaryngol 16 (5): 462-5, 1991.
11. Brizel DM, Albers ME, Fisher SR, et al.: Hyperfractionated irradiation with or without concurrent chemotherapy for locally advanced head and neck cancer. N Engl J Med 338 (25): 1798-804, 1998.
12. Samant S, Kumar P, Wan J, et al.: Concomitant radiation therapy and targeted cisplatin chemotherapy for the treatment of advanced pyriform sinus carcinoma: disease control and preservation of organ function. Head Neck 21 (7): 595-601, 1999.
13. Jeremic B, Shibamoto Y, Milicic B, et al.: Hyperfractionated radiation therapy with or without concurrent low-dose daily cisplatin in locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck: a prospective randomized trial. J Clin Oncol 18 (7): 1458-64, 2000.
14. Lefebvre JL, Chevalier D, Luboinski B, et al.: Larynx preservation in pyriform sinus cancer: preliminary results of a European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer phase III trial. EORTC Head and Neck Cancer Cooperative Group. J Natl Cancer Inst 88 (13): 890-9, 1996.
15. Kim S, Wu HG, Heo DS, et al.: Advanced hypopharyngeal carcinoma treatment results according to treatment modalities. Head Neck 23 (9): 713-7, 2001.
16. Okamoto M, Takahashi H, Yao K, et al.: Clinical impact of using chemoradiotherapy as a primary treatment for hypopharyngeal cancer. Acta Otolaryngol Suppl (547): 11-4, 2002.
17. Fowler JF, Lindstrom MJ: Loss of local control with prolongation in radiotherapy. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 23 (2): 457-67, 1992.
18. Hansen O, Overgaard J, Hansen HS, et al.: Importance of overall treatment time for the outcome of radiotherapy of advanced head and neck carcinoma: dependency on tumor differentiation. Radiother Oncol 43 (1): 47-51, 1997.
19. Browman GP, Wong G, Hodson I, et al.: Influence of cigarette smoking on the efficacy of radiation therapy in head and neck cancer. N Engl J Med 328 (3): 159-63, 1993.
20. Turner SL, Tiver KW, Boyages SC: Thyroid dysfunction following radiotherapy for head and neck cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 31 (2): 279-83, 1995.
21. Constine LS: What else don't we know about the late effects of radiation in patients treated for head and neck cancer? Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 31 (2): 427-9, 1995.

Stage I Hypopharyngeal Cancer

Except for the very early T1 cancers of this region, treatment has been primarily surgery, usually followed with postoperative radiation therapy. Because these tumors are clinically silent until they reach advanced stages, it is very unusual to diagnose them at the T1 N0 stage. In most available retrospective reviews, T1 N0 cases represent only 1% to 2% of all patients seen. In the case of exophytic T1 N0 lesions, radiation therapy alone may be considered for treatment.[1,2]

Standard treatment options:

  • Laryngopharyngectomy and neck dissection has been the most frequently used therapy for hypopharyngeal cancers. In very selected cases of pyriform sinus cancers, that is, those arising in the upper lateral wall, a partial laryngopharyngectomy may be successfully used to preserve vocal function. All groups who use radiation advocate high-dose treatment to the primary site and to both sides of the neck to include the retropharyngeal and lateral cervical nodes.[1]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage I hypopharyngeal cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References:

1. Mendenhall WM, Parsons JT, Devine JW, et al.: Squamous cell carcinoma of the pyriform sinus treated with surgery and/or radiotherapy. Head Neck Surg 10 (2): 88-92, 1987 Nov-Dec.
2. Murthy AK, Galinsky D, Hendrickson FR: Hypopharynx. In: Laramore GE, ed.: Radiation Therapy of Head and Neck Cancer. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1989, pp 107-24.

Stage II Hypopharyngeal Cancer

Treatment has been primarily surgery, which is usually followed with postoperative radiation therapy (PORT). Because these tumors are clinically silent until they reach advanced stages, it is very unusual to diagnose these tumors at the T2 N0 stage.

Standard treatment options:

1.Laryngopharyngectomy and neck dissection has been the most frequently used therapy for hypopharyngeal cancers. In very selected cases of pyriform sinus cancers, that is, those arising in the upper medial wall, a partial laryngopharyngectomy may be successfully used to preserve vocal function. In T2 cases, PORT has been given in combination with surgery in an effort to improve the local control rates of surgery alone. There are advocates of preoperative radiation therapy, but all groups giving radiation advocate high-dose treatment to the primary site and to both sides of the neck to include the retropharyngeal and lateral cervical nodes.[1,2]
2.Neoadjuvant chemotherapy, as given in clinical trials, has been used to shrink tumors and render them more definitively treatable with either surgery or radiation. The chemotherapy is given prior to the other modalities, hence the designation, neoadjuvant, to distinguish it from standard adjuvant therapy, which is given after or during definitive therapy with radiation or after surgery. Many drug combinations have been used in neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is commonly used to treat patients who present with advanced disease to improve locoregional control or survival, despite the lack of data from randomized, prospective trials.[3] The use of neoadjuvant chemotherapy to increase organ preservation has also been advocated. In a prospective randomized trial, referred to as the GORTEC-TREMPLIN trial (NCT00169247), the European Organization for the Research and Treatment of Cancer compared surgery plus PORT to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (i.e., cisplatin plus 5-fluorouracil) followed by radiation in responding patients. Local and regional failures were similar in both groups. Although median survival was 25 months in the immediate surgery arm of the study and 44 months in the induction chemotherapy arm (P = .006), 5-year disease-free and overall survival were the same. A functional larynx was preserved in 42% of patients at 3 years and 35% at 5 years in patients who were receiving induction chemotherapy. These data have not been confirmed by other phase III trials but suggest that larynx preservation may be feasible without jeopardizing survival.[4][Level of evidence: 1iiA,1iiC]

Most neoadjuvant chemotherapy clinical trials have included stage II hypopharyngeal carcinoma patients for the trials because of the low survival rates for this group of patients.[5]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage II hypopharyngeal cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References:

1. Mendenhall WM, Parsons JT, Devine JW, et al.: Squamous cell carcinoma of the pyriform sinus treated with surgery and/or radiotherapy. Head Neck Surg 10 (2): 88-92, 1987 Nov-Dec.
2. Murthy AK, Galinsky D, Hendrickson FR: Hypopharynx. In: Laramore GE, ed.: Radiation Therapy of Head and Neck Cancer. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1989, pp 107-24.
3. Harari PM: Why has induction chemotherapy for advanced head and neck cancer become a United States community standard of practice? J Clin Oncol 15 (5): 2050-5, 1997.
4. Lefebvre JL, Chevalier D, Luboinski B, et al.: Larynx preservation in pyriform sinus cancer: preliminary results of a European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer phase III trial. EORTC Head and Neck Cancer Cooperative Group. J Natl Cancer Inst 88 (13): 890-9, 1996.
5. Meoz-Mendez RT, Fletcher GH, Guillamondegui OM, et al.: Analysis of the results of irradiation in the treatment of squamous cell carcinomas of the pharyngeal walls. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 4 (7-8): 579-85, 1978 Jul-Aug.

Stage III Hypopharyngeal Cancer

The management of this group of patients is complex and requires multidisciplinary input to establish the optimal treatment regimen. New surgical techniques and reconstructions using the gastric pull-up operation or free jejunal transfers have greatly reduced the morbidity associated with resection of these tumors and have almost eliminated the need for multistage reconstructions. This has greatly aided the combined treatment regimens because these patients have a high likelihood of beginning postoperative radiation therapy (PORT) within 3 to 4 weeks following resection.

Details of surgical procedures and their modifications of radiation fields or dosage schedules are not specifically designated here because of legitimate variations in techniques that, according to various retrospective data, give similar survival results in different treatment centers. This group of patients should be managed by surgeons and radiation oncologists who are skilled in the multiple procedures and techniques available and who are actively and frequently involved in the care of these patients.

Standard treatment options:

1. The combination of surgery and radiation, most often postoperative as seen in a follow-up study of preoperative versus PORT (RTOG-7303), has become the usual form of therapy for this group of patients in the United States.[1,2,3]
2.Neoadjuvant chemotherapy as given in clinical trials has been used to shrink tumors and render them more definitively treatable with either surgery or radiation. Chemotherapy is given prior to the other modalities, hence the designation, neoadjuvant, to distinguish it from standard adjuvant therapy, which is given after or during definitive therapy with radiation or after surgery. Many drug combinations have been used in neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is commonly used to treat patients who present with advanced disease to improve locoregional control or survival, despite the lack of data from randomized, prospective trials.[4] The use of neoadjuvant chemotherapy to increase organ preservation has also been advocated. In a prospective randomized trial, referred to as the GORTEC-TREMPLIN trial (NCT00169247), the European Organization for the Treatment and Research of Cancer compared surgery plus PORT to induction chemotherapy (i.e., cisplatin plus 5-fluorouracil [5-FU]) followed by radiation in responding patients.[5] Local and regional failures were similar in both groups. Although median survival was 25 months in the immediate surgery arm of the study and 44 months in the induction chemotherapy arm (P = .006), 5-year disease-free and overall survival (OS) were the same. A functional larynx was preserved in 42% of patients at 3 years and 35% at 5 years in patients who were receiving induction chemotherapy.[5][Level of evidence: 1iiA,1iiC] In contrast to this, another randomized, prospective trial has demonstrated a statistically significant survival advantage for patients undergoing chemotherapy (i.e., cisplatin plus 5-FU) followed by laryngopharyngectomy and PORT when compared with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.[6][Level of evidence: 1iiA,1iiC] Although organ preservation was not discussed in this study, chemotherapy in combination with radiation therapy without surgery should not be considered standard.
3. Patients with stage III hypopharyngeal cancer should be considered for treatment with combined postoperative, adjuvant radiation therapy and chemotherapy. In a prospective, randomized trial, postoperative, adjuvant radiation therapy alone was compared with postoperative, adjuvant radiation therapy plus concurrent chemotherapy. Both the OS (P < .01) and the disease-free survival (P < .02) were better in the group of patients receiving radiation therapy plus concurrent chemotherapy.[7][Level of evidence:1iiA] In another study, primary site preservation was improved, though OS was not improved when chemotherapy was administered concomitantly with radiation therapy.[8,9]

To review treatment options for stage III unresectable hypopharyngeal cancer, see Stage IV Hypopharyngeal Cancer, Unresectable.

Treatment options under clinical evaluation:

  • Other studies suggest that chemotherapy combined with radiation therapy is beneficial in patients who have locally advanced disease.[10,11,12]

    A meta-analysis of 63 randomized prospective trials published between 1965 and 1993 showed an 8% absolute survival advantage in the subset of patients receiving concomitant chemotherapy and radiation therapy.[13][Level of evidence: 2A] Patients receiving adjuvant or neoadjuvant chemotherapy had no survival advantage. Cost, quality of life, and morbidity data were not available; no standard regimen existed; and the trials were too heterogenous to provide definitive recommendations. The results of ongoing trials may further clarify the role of concomitant chemotherapy and radiation therapy in the management of hypopharyngeal cancer.

    The best chemotherapy to use and the appropriate way to integrate the two modalities is still unresolved.[14]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage III hypopharyngeal cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References:

1. Arriagada R, Eschwege F, Cachin Y, et al.: The value of combining radiotherapy with surgery in the treatment of hypopharyngeal and laryngeal cancers. Cancer 51 (10): 1819-25, 1983.
2. Mendenhall WM, Parsons JT, Devine JW, et al.: Squamous cell carcinoma of the pyriform sinus treated with surgery and/or radiotherapy. Head Neck Surg 10 (2): 88-92, 1987 Nov-Dec.
3. Tupchong L, Scott CB, Blitzer PH, et al.: Randomized study of preoperative versus postoperative radiation therapy in advanced head and neck carcinoma: long-term follow-up of RTOG study 73-03. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 20 (1): 21-8, 1991.
4. Harari PM: Why has induction chemotherapy for advanced head and neck cancer become a United States community standard of practice? J Clin Oncol 15 (5): 2050-5, 1997.
5. Lefebvre JL, Chevalier D, Luboinski B, et al.: Larynx preservation in pyriform sinus cancer: preliminary results of a European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer phase III trial. EORTC Head and Neck Cancer Cooperative Group. J Natl Cancer Inst 88 (13): 890-9, 1996.
6. Beauvillain C, Mahé M, Bourdin S, et al.: Final results of a randomized trial comparing chemotherapy plus radiotherapy with chemotherapy plus surgery plus radiotherapy in locally advanced resectable hypopharyngeal carcinomas. Laryngoscope 107 (5): 648-53, 1997.
7. Bachaud JM, Cohen-Jonathan E, Alzieu C, et al.: Combined postoperative radiotherapy and weekly cisplatin infusion for locally advanced head and neck carcinoma: final report of a randomized trial. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 36 (5): 999-1004, 1996.
8. Adelstein DJ, Lavertu P, Saxton JP, et al.: Mature results of a phase III randomized trial comparing concurrent chemoradiotherapy with radiation therapy alone in patients with stage III and IV squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Cancer 88 (4): 876-83, 2000.
9. Bernier J, Domenge C, Ozsahin M, et al.: Postoperative irradiation with or without concomitant chemotherapy for locally advanced head and neck cancer. N Engl J Med 350 (19): 1945-52, 2004.
10. Browman GP, Cripps C, Hodson DI, et al.: Placebo-controlled randomized trial of infusional fluorouracil during standard radiotherapy in locally advanced head and neck cancer. J Clin Oncol 12 (12): 2648-53, 1994.
11. Merlano M, Benasso M, Corvò R, et al.: Five-year update of a randomized trial of alternating radiotherapy and chemotherapy compared with radiotherapy alone in treatment of unresectable squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. J Natl Cancer Inst 88 (9): 583-9, 1996.
12. Jeremic B, Shibamoto Y, Milicic B, et al.: Hyperfractionated radiation therapy with or without concurrent low-dose daily cisplatin in locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck: a prospective randomized trial. J Clin Oncol 18 (7): 1458-64, 2000.
13. Pignon JP, Bourhis J, Domenge C, et al.: Chemotherapy added to locoregional treatment for head and neck squamous-cell carcinoma: three meta-analyses of updated individual data. MACH-NC Collaborative Group. Meta-Analysis of Chemotherapy on Head and Neck Cancer. Lancet 355 (9208): 949-55, 2000.
14. Taylor SG 4th, Murthy AK, Vannetzel JM, et al.: Randomized comparison of neoadjuvant cisplatin and fluorouracil infusion followed by radiation versus concomitant treatment in advanced head and neck cancer. J Clin Oncol 12 (2): 385-95, 1994.

Stage IV Hypopharyngeal Cancer

Resectable Hypopharyngeal Cancer

The management of patients with resectable hypopharyngeal cancer is complex and requires multidisciplinary input to establish the optimal treatment regimen. New surgical techniques and reconstructions using the gastric pull-up operation or free jejunal transfers have greatly reduced the morbidity associated with resection of these tumors and have almost eliminated the need for multistage reconstructions. This has greatly aided the combined treatment regimens because these patients have a high likelihood of beginning postoperative radiation therapy within 3 to 4 weeks following resection.

Details of surgical procedures and their modifications of radiation fields or dosage schedules are not specifically designated here because of legitimate variations in techniques that, according to various retrospective data, give similar survival results in different treatment centers. This group of patients should be managed by surgeons and radiation oncologists who are skilled in the multiple procedures and techniques available, and who are actively and frequently involved in the care of these patients.

Standard treatment options:

1.The combination of surgery and radiation, most often postoperative as seen in a follow-up study of preoperative versus postoperative radiation therapy (PORT) (RTOG-7303), has become the usual form of therapy for this group of patients in the United States.[1,2]
2.Neoadjuvant chemotherapy as given in clinical trials has been used to shrink tumors and render them more definitively treatable with either surgery or radiation. Chemotherapy is given prior to the other modalities, hence the designation, neoadjuvant, to distinguish it from standard adjuvant therapy, which is given after or during definitive therapy with radiation or after surgery. Many drug combinations have been used in neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is commonly used to treat patients presenting with advanced disease to improve locoregional control or survival, despite the lack of data from randomized, prospective trials.[3] The use of neoadjuvant chemotherapy to increase organ preservation has also been advocated. In a prospective randomized trial, referred to as the GORTEC-TREMPLIN trial (NCT00169247), the European Organization for the Research and Treatment of Cancer compared surgery plus PORT to induction chemotherapy (i.e., cisplatin plus 5-fluorouracil [5-FU]) followed by radiation in responding patients.[4] Local and regional failures were similar in both groups. Although median survival was 25 months in the immediate surgery arm of the study and 44 months in the induction chemotherapy arm (P = .006), 5-year disease-free and overall survival (OS) were the same. A functional larynx was preserved in 42% of patients at 3 years and 35% at 5 years in patients who were receiving induction chemotherapy.[4][Level of evidence: 1iiA, 1iiC] In contrast to this, another randomized, prospective trial has demonstrated a statistically significant survival advantage for patients undergoing chemotherapy (i.e., cisplatin plus 5-FU) followed by laryngopharyngectomy and PORT when compared with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.[5][Level of evidence: 1iiA,1iiC] Although organ preservation was not discussed, chemotherapy in combination with radiation therapy without surgery should not be considered standard.
3. Patients with stage IV hypopharyngeal cancer should be considered for treatment with combined postoperative, adjuvant radiation therapy and chemotherapy. In a prospective, randomized trial, postoperative, adjuvant radiation therapy alone was compared to postoperative, adjuvant radiation therapy plus concurrent chemotherapy. Both the OS (P <.01) and the disease-free survival (P <.02) were better in the group of patients receiving radiation therapy plus concurrent chemotherapy.[6][Level of evidence: 1iiA] In another study, primary site preservation was improved, though OS was not improved when chemotherapy was administered concomitantly with radiation therapy.[7,8]

Unresectable Hypopharyngeal Cancer

Standard treatment options:

1.These patients are candidates for radiation therapy.
2.Chemotherapy has been combined with radiation therapy in patients who have locally advanced disease.[9,10,11] In a randomized trial, the 3-year projected OS for patients with stage III or stage IV inoperable disease receiving single daily fractionated radiation with concurrent cisplatin was 37% (P = .14).[11][Level of evidence:1iiA]

Treatment options under clinical evaluation:

  • Radiation therapy clinical trials evaluating hyperfractionation schedules should be considered with chemotherapy.[12,13,14,15,16,17]

    A meta-analysis of 63 randomized prospective trials published between 1965 and 1993 showed an 8% absolute survival advantage in the subset of patients receiving concomitant chemotherapy and radiation therapy.[18][Level of evidence: 2A] Patients receiving adjuvant or neoadjuvant chemotherapy had no survival advantage. Cost, quality of life, and morbidity data were not available; no standard regimen existed; and the trials were too heterogenous to provide definitive recommendations. The results of ongoing trials may further clarify the role of concomitant chemotherapy and radiation therapy in the management of hypopharyngeal cancer.

The best chemotherapy to use and the appropriate way to integrate the two modalities is still unresolved.[19]

Posttreatment follow-up:

  • These patients should have a careful head and neck examination, looking for recurrence monthly for the first posttreatment year, every 2 months for the second year, every 3 months the third year, and every 6 months thereafter.

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage IV hypopharyngeal cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References:

1. Arriagada R, Eschwege F, Cachin Y, et al.: The value of combining radiotherapy with surgery in the treatment of hypopharyngeal and laryngeal cancers. Cancer 51 (10): 1819-25, 1983.
2. Tupchong L, Scott CB, Blitzer PH, et al.: Randomized study of preoperative versus postoperative radiation therapy in advanced head and neck carcinoma: long-term follow-up of RTOG study 73-03. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 20 (1): 21-8, 1991.
3. Harari PM: Why has induction chemotherapy for advanced head and neck cancer become a United States community standard of practice? J Clin Oncol 15 (5): 2050-5, 1997.
4. Lefebvre JL, Chevalier D, Luboinski B, et al.: Larynx preservation in pyriform sinus cancer: preliminary results of a European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer phase III trial. EORTC Head and Neck Cancer Cooperative Group. J Natl Cancer Inst 88 (13): 890-9, 1996.
5. Beauvillain C, Mahé M, Bourdin S, et al.: Final results of a randomized trial comparing chemotherapy plus radiotherapy with chemotherapy plus surgery plus radiotherapy in locally advanced resectable hypopharyngeal carcinomas. Laryngoscope 107 (5): 648-53, 1997.
6. Bachaud JM, Cohen-Jonathan E, Alzieu C, et al.: Combined postoperative radiotherapy and weekly cisplatin infusion for locally advanced head and neck carcinoma: final report of a randomized trial. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 36 (5): 999-1004, 1996.
7. Adelstein DJ, Lavertu P, Saxton JP, et al.: Mature results of a phase III randomized trial comparing concurrent chemoradiotherapy with radiation therapy alone in patients with stage III and IV squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Cancer 88 (4): 876-83, 2000.
8. Bernier J, Domenge C, Ozsahin M, et al.: Postoperative irradiation with or without concomitant chemotherapy for locally advanced head and neck cancer. N Engl J Med 350 (19): 1945-52, 2004.
9. Al-Sarraf M, Pajak TF, Marcial VA, et al.: Concurrent radiotherapy and chemotherapy with cisplatin in inoperable squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. An RTOG Study. Cancer 59 (2): 259-65, 1987.
10. Merlano M, Benasso M, Corvò R, et al.: Five-year update of a randomized trial of alternating radiotherapy and chemotherapy compared with radiotherapy alone in treatment of unresectable squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. J Natl Cancer Inst 88 (9): 583-9, 1996.
11. Adelstein DJ, Li Y, Adams GL, et al.: An intergroup phase III comparison of standard radiation therapy and two schedules of concurrent chemoradiotherapy in patients with unresectable squamous cell head and neck cancer. J Clin Oncol 21 (1): 92-8, 2003.
12. Weissler MC, Melin S, Sailer SL, et al.: Simultaneous chemoradiation in the treatment of advanced head and neck cancer. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 118 (8): 806-10, 1992.
13. Jeremic B, Shibamoto Y, Milicic B, et al.: Hyperfractionated radiation therapy with or without concurrent low-dose daily cisplatin in locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck: a prospective randomized trial. J Clin Oncol 18 (7): 1458-64, 2000.
14. Staar S, Rudat V, Stuetzer H, et al.: Intensified hyperfractionated accelerated radiotherapy limits the additional benefit of simultaneous chemotherapy--results of a multicentric randomized German trial in advanced head-and-neck cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 50 (5): 1161-71, 2001.
15. Wendt TG, Grabenbauer GG, Rödel CM, et al.: Simultaneous radiochemotherapy versus radiotherapy alone in advanced head and neck cancer: a randomized multicenter study. J Clin Oncol 16 (4): 1318-24, 1998.
16. Brizel DM, Albers ME, Fisher SR, et al.: Hyperfractionated irradiation with or without concurrent chemotherapy for locally advanced head and neck cancer. N Engl J Med 338 (25): 1798-804, 1998.
17. Semrau R, Mueller RP, Stuetzer H, et al.: Efficacy of intensified hyperfractionated and accelerated radiotherapy and concurrent chemotherapy with carboplatin and 5-fluorouracil: updated results of a randomized multicentric trial in advanced head-and-neck cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 64 (5): 1308-16, 2006.
18. Pignon JP, Bourhis J, Domenge C, et al.: Chemotherapy added to locoregional treatment for head and neck squamous-cell carcinoma: three meta-analyses of updated individual data. MACH-NC Collaborative Group. Meta-Analysis of Chemotherapy on Head and Neck Cancer. Lancet 355 (9208): 949-55, 2000.
19. Taylor SG 4th, Murthy AK, Vannetzel JM, et al.: Randomized comparison of neoadjuvant cisplatin and fluorouracil infusion followed by radiation versus concomitant treatment in advanced head and neck cancer. J Clin Oncol 12 (2): 385-95, 1994.

Recurrent Hypopharyngeal Cancer

Standard treatment options:

1.Surgical resection if radiation therapy fails and if technically feasible.[1]
2.Radiation therapy, if not previously used in curative doses that preclude further treatment, if surgery fails.
3.Surgical salvage if technically feasible, when surgery fails.
4.Chemotherapy for metastatic disease.[2]

Treatment options under clinical evaluation:

  • Clinical trials evaluating the use of chemotherapy should be considered.[3]

Posttreatment follow-up:

  • These patients should have a careful head and neck examination, looking for recurrence monthly for the first posttreatment year, every 2 months for the second year, every 3 months the third year, and every 6 months thereafter.

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with recurrent hypopharyngeal cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References:

1. Wong LY, Wei WI, Lam LK, et al.: Salvage of recurrent head and neck squamous cell carcinoma after primary curative surgery. Head Neck 25 (11): 953-9, 2003.
2. Adelstein DJ, Tan EH, Lavertu P: Treatment of head and neck cancer: the role of chemotherapy. Crit Rev Oncol Hematol 24 (2): 97-116, 1996.
3. Jacobs C, Lyman G, Velez-García E, et al.: A phase III randomized study comparing cisplatin and fluorouracil as single agents and in combination for advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. J Clin Oncol 10 (2): 257-63, 1992.

Changes to This Summary (07 / 16 / 2012)

The PDQ cancer information summaries are reviewed regularly and updated as new information becomes available. This section describes the latest changes made to this summary as of the date above.

Editorial changes were made to this summary.

This summary is written and maintained by the PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board, which is editorially independent of NCI. The summary reflects an independent review of the literature and does not represent a policy statement of NCI or NIH. More information about summary policies and the role of the PDQ Editorial Boards in maintaining the PDQ summaries can be found on the About This PDQ Summary and PDQ NCI's Comprehensive Cancer Database pages.

About This PDQ Summary

Purpose of This Summary

This PDQ cancer information summary for health professionals provides comprehensive, peer-reviewed, evidence-based information about the treatment of hypopharyngeal cancer. It is intended as a resource to inform and assist clinicians who care for cancer patients. It does not provide formal guidelines or recommendations for making health care decisions.

Reviewers and Updates

This summary is reviewed regularly and updated as necessary by the PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board, which is editorially independent of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The summary reflects an independent review of the literature and does not represent a policy statement of NCI or the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Board members review recently published articles each month to determine whether an article should:

  • be discussed at a meeting,
  • be cited with text, or
  • replace or update an existing article that is already cited.

Changes to the summaries are made through a consensus process in which Board members evaluate the strength of the evidence in the published articles and determine how the article should be included in the summary.

The lead reviewers for Hypopharyngeal Cancer Treatment are:

  • James P. Neifeld, MD (Medical College of Virginia Hospital & Virginia Commonwealth University)
  • Minh Tam Truong, MD (Boston University Medical Center)

Any comments or questions about the summary content should be submitted to Cancer.gov through the Web site's Contact Form. Do not contact the individual Board Members with questions or comments about the summaries. Board members will not respond to individual inquiries.

Levels of Evidence

Some of the reference citations in this summary are accompanied by a level-of-evidence designation. These designations are intended to help readers assess the strength of the evidence supporting the use of specific interventions or approaches. The PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board uses a formal evidence ranking system in developing its level-of-evidence designations.

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The preferred citation for this PDQ summary is:

National Cancer Institute: PDQ® Hypopharyngeal Cancer Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Date last modified <MM/DD/YYYY>. Available at: http://cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/hypopharyngeal/HealthProfessional. Accessed <MM/DD/YYYY>.

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