Hypopharyngeal cancer is a rare type of cancer that affects the inlet to the oesophagus (gullet).

This is a hidden area and cancers may often present in a later stage because of this.
The risk associated with developing a hypopharyngeal cancer is increased by smoking tobacco, regularly drinking large amounts of alcohol and having an unhealthy diet.

The main treatments for hypopharyngeal cancer are radiotherapy, radiotherapy with chemotherapy, and surgery. Radiotherapy or surgery to remove the cancerous cells from the hypopharynx can cure the cancer if it is diagnosed at an early stage. However, if the cancer is advanced, a combination of surgery to remove part (or all) of the larynx and hypopharynx, or radiotherapy and chemotherapy, can be used.

If you have major surgery to remove your hypopharynx and larynx you will breathe via a different route, but every effort is undertaken to maintain voice production. Breathing will be through a permanent hole in your neck (stoma) and you will need additional treatment to help restore your voice.

Read more about diagnosing and treating head and neck cancer at UCLH.