The pharynx refers to the cavity behind the mouth and the nasal cavity and opens to either the esophagus or the larynx. It is the hollow tube in the neck. Two sets of pharyngeal muscles form the pharynx, i.e. an inner layer of longitudinal muscles and an outer layer of circular muscles. The human pharynx is comprised of three sections: (1) the nasopharynx, (2) the oropharynx, and (3) the laryngopharynx.
Cancer that forms in the tissues of the pharynx is called pharyngeal cancer. Thus, pharyngeal cancer may be classified as cancer of the nasopharynx (e.g. upper part), cancer of the oropharynx (middle part), and cancer of the laryngopharynx (lower part). The symptoms depend on the affected part of the pharynx. For instance, cancer of the nasopharynx may include nosebleeds while cancer forming on the lower part is characterized by difficulty in swallowing. Other common symptoms are chronic sore throat, lumps in the upper neck, swelling of the neck, hoarseness, persistent cough, etc.
Some of the risk factors include smoking, alcohol consumption, Epstein-Bar virus infection, human papillomavirus infection, asbestos exposure, and formaldehyde exposure.
- throat cancer