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It is not uncommon for patients with hypopharyngeal cancer to present at an advanced stage of disease. Surgical treatment provides a cure for the tumour with immediate relief from obstruction to the airway and the swallowing passage. Careful planning of surgery is important to ensure good outcome of treatment and prevent complications, some of which may be fatal. The shape of the hypopharynx resembles that of a funnel, with a wide circumference above in continuity with the oropharynx, and a small circumference below where it joins with the cervical oesophagus. As a result, while small tumours require the partial removal of the hypopharynx, large tumours, especially those involving the post-cricoid region, warrant a complete, circumferential pharyngectomy. For tumours that invade the cervical esophagus, transcervical approach is still feasible, and this is facilitated by the removal of the manubrium, allowing access to the tumour and resection with clear margins. In the presence of synchronous tumours lower down in the esophagus, pharyngo-laryngo-esophagectomy is indicated. Successful reconstruction of defects after tumour extirpation allows proper wound healing and early delivery of adjuvant radiotherapy. It is also important to ensure quick recovery of the long-term swallowing function. It ranges from the use of the soft tissue flap with skin island that is sutured as a patch to the remnants of the pharyngeal mucosa, to the use of a visceral flap, such as the free jejunal flap, to repair the circumferential pharyngectomy defects. The treatment protocol is personalized according to the extent of the tumour and the characteristics of the patients.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Advances in oto-rhino-laryngology
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Tumors or cancer of the HYPOPHARYNX.
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