There is no such thing as a routine oropharyngeal cancer. Every patient’s disease is different, with different, individually unique genes and molecules driving that specific cancer.

At the OSUCCC – James, our oropharyngeal cancer sub-specialists are world-renowned cancer experts who focus solely on these tumors and who reach across medical disciplines (neurooncologists, neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, neuroradiologists, neuropsychologists, pharmacists, nurse sub-specialists and more) to design the very best treatment plan and therapies to target each patient’s specific cancer.

And by offering access to the country’s most advanced clinical trials (including robotic surgical trials for tonsil and base-of-tongue cancers) right here at the OSUCCC – James, patients know that additional options, when needed, are often available for their treatment and care.

Facts About Oropharyngeal Cancer

The oropharynx is the middle part of the pharynx, which is a tube that begins behind the nose and ends at the beginning of the windpipe. Both air and food pass through the pharynx.

Oropharyngeal cancer is rare and usually occurs in people between 50 and 80 years old. Being infected with human papillomavirus (HPV), smoking and excessive use of alcohol are the greatest risk factors for oropharyngeal cancer. About 42,000 new cases of cancer in the oropharynx and oral cavity are diagnosed in the United States each year.

Oropharyngeal Anatomy

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

Types of Oropharyngeal Cancer

Most cases of oropharyngeal cancer form in squamous cells, which are the flat, thin cells that form the lining inside the oropharynx.

In addition to squamous cell oropharyngeal cancer, other types include:

  • Minor salivary gland tumors
  • Lymphomas
  • Lymphoepitheliomas

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

Oropharyngeal Cancer Symptoms

Oropharyngeal cancer symptoms include a lump in the neck and a sore throat. These and other symptoms may be caused by oropharyngeal cancer or by other conditions. Check with your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • A sore throat that does not go away
  • A dull pain behind the breastbone
  • Cough
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Weight loss for no known reason
  • Ear pain
  • A lump in the back of the mouth, throat, or neck
  • A change in voice

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

Having these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have oropharyngeal cancer. But if you have symptoms you should tell your doctor, especially if symptoms have continued for longer than a few weeks.

If you’ve been diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancer, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with a head and neck cancer specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

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The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

460 W. 10th Ave.

Columbus, Ohio 43210


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