Oropharyngeal Cancer Treatment in Mumbai, India

What is oropharyngeal cancer?

Oropharyngeal cancer is cancer in the oropharynx or middle part of the throat behind the mouth. It includes the base of the tongue, tonsils, soft palate, and sidewalls of the throat. Symptoms of this cancer include a lump in the throat, white patches inside the mouth, bloodstained sputum, and many more.

Associated Anatomy

Oropharynx or part of the throat behind the mouth

Common Causes of Oropharyngeal Cancer

  • Tobacco and smoking, damage the inner lining of the mouth and throat
  • Contracting Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which manufactures proteins that interfere with normal cell growth
  • Genetic mutations in the cells of the throat, result in the accumulation of the cells forming a tumor

Signs or Symptoms of Oropharyngeal Cancer

  • Non-healing sores in the mouth and on lips
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Lumps in back of throat, neck, mouth, or lips
  • Persistent sore throat
  • White patches on the tongue and inner lining of mouth
  • Change in voice
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Pain in ears and jaws

Possible Treatment For Oropharyngeal Cancer


Mandibulotomy: The splitting of the jawbone to reach the tumor cells.

Glossectomy: The surgical removal of the tongue.

Maxillectomy: Removing the bony roof of the mouth.

Transoral robotic surgery: Minimally invasive surgery to cut and remove the tumor cells using a robot.


Chemotherapy includes medications that kill cancerous cells. Oral or intravenous chemotherapeutic drugs attack cancerous cells throughout the body. Specified chemotherapeutic medications injected in the spinal cord, organs, body cavities, or directly on the skin can kill cancerous cells at specific locations.

Radiation Therapy

External radiation therapy delivers high-energy radiation through the skin to the targeted region using a machine and kills the cancerous cells. Internal radiation therapy transfers the radioactive substances sealed in needles, wires, or catheters directly into cancerous cells.

Biological Therapy

Many biological or synthetic substances can boost the immune system of cancer patients. It helps the body to fight HPV and thus treat precancerous cells.

Risk Factors Associated With Oropharyngeal Cancer

  • Consumption of tobacco
  • Addiction to alcohol and smoking
  • Infection of HPV and Epstein-Barr virus
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Radiation therapy for head and neck

Oropharyngeal Cancer Stages

It is mandatory to diagnose the stage to determine the spread of oropharyngeal cancer in the body.

  • Stage 0: Cancer is localized within the epithelium lining the oral cavity and oropharynx.
  • Stage I: Cancer is less than 2 centimeters and is present only in the epithelium and doesn't spread to nearby lymph nodes or distant sites.
  • Stage II: Cancer is more than 4 cm in size.
  • Stage III: Cancer spreads to the epiglottis or base of the tongue.
  • Stage IV: This stage is divided into A and IV B. In the A stage, cancer spreads to the larynx, tongue muscle, hard palate, or jaw. In the B state, it spreads to the nearby soft tissues and lymph nodes.

Typical test to diagnose oropharyngeal cancer

There are several ways to diagnose oropharyngeal cancer:

  • Physical examination – The doctor examines the larynx, lymph nodes of the neck, area behind the nose, and feels lumps on the lips, mouth, and gums during routine check-ups.
  • Endoscopy – An endoscope (flexible tube with attached light and lens) helps to view the mouth and throat in detail.
  • Biopsy – It helps to determine the abnormal or cancerous cells in the oral cavity.
  • X-ray – It determines the spread of cancer to the organs and bones.
  • CT scan or CAT scan and MRI – These imaging tests use waves to form a detailed image of the mouth.
  • PET scan – The doctor injects radioactive glucose in the veins and collects images of the cancerous cells containing this radioactive sugar.
  • HPV testing – A test done to detect the presence of HPV.
  • Barium swallow – It helps to examine the oropharynx by asking the patient to swallow barium. When liquid barium passes to the stomach, doctors can see any changes in the structure of the oral cavity.

Prevention of Oropharyngeal Cancer Treatment

Primary Prevention

There are many ways to prevent the onset of oropharyngeal cancer:

  • Stop smoking and tobacco consumption
  • Avoid regular or heavy intake of alcohol
  • Vaccination against HPV
  • Follow a balanced diet

Secondary Prevention

Follow-up after the cancer treatment includes some tests to determine the cell size and shape. The tests check the effectiveness of the treatment. They note the cell size, hence preventing a recurrence of the cancer.

  • Regular check-ups and physical examinations by a doctor
  • Avoid smoking
  • Self-examination of mouth and lips

Additional Types

Based on the different parts of the throat, oral cancer is of many types:

  • Nasopharyngeal cancer: Cancer of the nasopharynx or the part of the throat behind the nose
  • Glottic cancer: Cancer in the vocal cords
  • Hypopharyngeal cancer: Cancer in the hypopharynx or the lower part of the throat above the esophagus and trachea

Alternate Name

Oral cancer


Oropharyngeal cancer is more common in men than in women. People usually get diagnosed at the age of 62. This cancer is rarely found in children while 25% of the cases are common in people below the age of 55. About 90% of oropharyngeal cancers are squamous cell carcinoma.

Expected prognosis

The prognosis of oropharyngeal cancer depends on various factors including the stage of cancer, overall health, age, infection of HPV, and smoking history. The five-year survival rate of oropharyngeal cancer is 70%. To decrease the chances of recurrence, people must quit smoking and tobacco consumption.

Natural progression

Oropharyngeal cancer takes many years to develop and begins with cancerous growth in the epithelium. Eventually, it spreads to distant sites and lymph nodes.


The cancerous cells start growing in the outer layer of cells in the oral cavity and oropharynx. In later stages, it spreads to the larynx, tongue, palate, or jaw.

Some Possible Complications of Oropharyngeal Cancer

  • Spread of oropharyngeal cancer to lymph nodes
  • Hyposalivation or reduced saliva production
  • Osteoradionecrosis or bone death due to radiation therapy
  • Tissue fibrosis or formation of scar tissue
  • Morbidity from jaw resection
  • Oral mucositis or swelling in the mouth

Our Medical Oropharyngeal Cancer Treatment in Mumbai, India Experts

If you are facing any similar signs or symptoms please contact the Nanavati Max team to schedule an appointment at : +91 22 6836 0000

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