Treatment For Stage 3 Throat Cancer

How is Stage 3 Throat Cancer Treated?

In stage 3 throat cancer,  the tumour size is more than 4 cm in its (the tumour’s) greatest dimension (diameter), and cancer has usually spread to the regional lymph nodes. Stage 3 is generally termed as a locally advanced stage of the disease.

Photograph of surgeon monitoring screen for stage 3 throat cancer treatment

A multi-modality approach is the standard option for stage 3 throat cancer patients. The standard approach in this stage is chemo-radiotherapy with radical intent. The advantage of radiation over surgery is the preservation of organ functions, such as speech and respiration. Surgical treatments for stage 3 cancers in this region require a more aggressive surgical approach and is generally recommended in patients who refuse to receive radiation, or in cases where radiation is contraindicated by the doctor.

When surgery is performed as an initial treatment, it needs to be followed with adjuvant radiation with or without chemotherapy.

Radiation is generally administered over 6 to 7 weeks, 5 times a week to a total dose of 66 to 70 Gy along with weekly concurrent chemotherapy with Cisplatin.

Treatment for Stage 3 hypopharyngeal throat cancer patients

The standard treatment in this stage is radical chemo-radiotherapy.

Surgery is an alternative treatment modality, which involves the surgical removal of the pharynx, larynx, and the affected lymph nodes in the neck. This is usually followed by either radiation alone or a combination of radiation and chemotherapy (in scenarios where doctors find that the cancer is likely to recur post surgery).

The other type of treatment modality is neoadjuvant chemotherapy. In this approach, chemotherapy is given initially, in order to decrease the size of a tumour. This needs to be followed by chemo-radiotherapy or surgery.

However, in most advanced cases of stage 3 throat cancer, treatment is aimed to stop or slow the rate of tumour growth and to relieve the patient of any painful symptoms that they experience at this stage.

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