Management of Oropharynx Cancers

Carcinomas arising in the oropharynx, which includes the tonsils, base (that is, the posterior two thirds) of the tongue, and soft palate, are usually treated with primary radiation therapy.  Patients with advanced neck disease (two or more lymph nodes 2 to 3 cm or larger in size) often undergo a neck dissection (removal of the lymph nodes in the neck) after the radiation therapy.  Although the primary cancer in the oropharynx may be removed surgically, there is no evidence that this improves the chance of cure, and it is associated with a higher risk for complications.


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