Despite advances in surgical and nonsurgical treatment, overall survival rates for patients who have hypopharyngeal carcinoma have not improved, and this disease still has a poor prognosis. The best results are obtained with multimodality therapy, but at best, two thirds of patients are palliated rather than cured of disease. Radical surgery with postoperative radiation therapy remains the standard of care. Organ preservation strategies have not been as successful in hypopharyngeal cancer as for cancers of other head and neck sites. Chemoradiation is an effective alternative method of aggressive treatment but may be associated with significant dysfunction of the end organ when preservation is possible. Because of poor long-term survival rates, local control remains the most important factor in planning treatment, to provide meaningful palliation and best possible quality of life.
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