How is oropharyngeal cancer treated by stage?

Stage I - Treatment may be radiation therapy or surgery.

Stage II - Treatment involves surgery to remove the cancer or radiation therapy.

Stage III - Treatment for this stage of oropharyngeal cancer may include surgery to remove the cancer, followed by radiation therapy.

Other treatments may include:

  • Radiation therapy alone
  • A clinical trial of chemotherapy, followed by surgery or radiation therapy
  • A clinical trial of chemotherapy combined with radiation therapy
  • A clinical trial of new ways to provide radiation therapy

Stage IV - For cases in which oropharyngeal cancer can be removed by surgery, treatment may be one of the following:

  • Surgery to remove the cancer, followed by radiation therapy
  • Radiation therapy alone
  • A clinical trial combining radiation therapy and chemotherapy
  • A clinical trial of new ways to provide radiation therapy

For cases in which the cancer cannot be removed by surgery, treatment may include one of the following:

  • Radiation therapy
  • A clinical trial during which chemotherapy is followed by surgery or radiation therapy
  • A clinical trial of radiation therapy given with chemotherapy or radiosensitizers (drugs to make the cancer cells more sensitive to radiation therapy)
  • A clinical trial of new ways of giving radiation therapy
  • A clinical trial of hyperthermia therapy plus radiation therapy

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/29/2013.

References

  • National Cancer Institute 2012: Oropharyngeal cancer PDQ. Accessed January 15, 2013.
  • Kim ES, Gunn GB, William Jr. WN, Kies MS. Chapter 16. Head and Neck Cancer. In: Kantarjian HM, Wolff RA, Koller CA, eds. The MD Anderson Manual of Medical Oncology. 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2011.

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