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Cancer of the pharynx, more commonly known as the throat, is also called pharyngeal cancer. It can develop in any of the three regions of the pharynx:

  • The nasopharynx: The area behind the nose and the back of the throat, which is the hollow tube at the upper part of the throat that starts behind the nose and runs down to the neck to become part of the esophagus (the tube that goes to the stomach).
  • The oropharynx: Consisting of the base of tongue, the tonsillar region, soft palate, and back of the mouth.
  • The hypopharynx: The bottom part of the throat.


Most head and neck cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, or tumors that develop in the tissue lining the hollow organs of the body.

Other tumor types include lymphoepithelioma, spindle cell carcinoma, verrucous cancer, undifferentiated carcinoma, and cancers of the lymph nodes, called lymphoma (most often widespread non-Hodgkin′s lymphoma)