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

At the OSUCCC – James, our oropharyngeal cancer specialists are world-renowned cancer experts who focus solely on oropharyngeal cancer and who reach across medical disciplines (otolaryngologists, radiation and medical oncologists, endocrinologists, neurosurgeons, radiologists, speech pathologists, pharmacists 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 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.

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

Oropharyngeal Anatomy

Types of Oropharyngeal Cancer

Squamous Cell

Most oropharyngeal cancers form in the squamous cells. These are the flat, thin cells that form the lining inside the oropharynx.

Other Types 

Other types of oropharyngeal cancer include:

    • Minor salivary gland tumors
    • Lymphomas
    • Lymphoepitheliomas

(Source: National Cancer Institute

Oropharyngeal Cancer Symptoms

Most common signs and symptoms of oropharyngeal cancer are a lump in the neck and a sore throat.

These and other signs and 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 lump in the neck
  • 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
  • A dull pain behind the breastbone

(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 have received an oropharyngeal cancer diagnosis, or if you want a second opinion or just want to speak to an oropharyngeal cancer specialist, we are here to help you. Call 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

Make an Appointment


Please enter a keyword (i.e. Name, Cancer Type) or choose a Principle Investigator


Please enter a keyword (i.e. Name, Location) or choose a Cancer Type


Find a Location

Search by Building Name, Doctor Name, or ZIP code

The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

460 W. 10th Ave.

Columbus, Ohio 43210


What to Expect at The James

Patient and Visitor's Guide

Get information about your stay, amenities, visitor information and more.

Your First Appointment

Know what to bring, how to prepare and what to expect at your first appointment.

Patient Education

Read from a library of resources designed by experts to help you answer questions and make informed decisions.

Contact Us

The Joan Bisesi Fund for Head and Neck Oncology Research

Joans Fund

Learn how giving to Joan's Fund supports the legacy of Joan Bisesi and head and neck cancer research at the OSUCCC – James.

Learn More