Cancer, Post-Cricoid

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Anatomy of Upper Airway and Throat. Courtesy Wikipedia.org

Anatomy of Upper Airway and Throat. Courtesy Wikipedia.org

What Is Post-Cricoid Carcinoma?

Post-cricoid carcinoma is a rare malignancy arising in the hypopharynx.

Q: What is the hypopharynx?

A: The hypopharynx is the lower portion of the pharynx that opens into the larynx. It is comprised of the postcricoid region, pyriform sinus, and posterior hypopharyngeal wall.

Tumors rarely appear in the posterior pharyngeal wall or postcricoid region without also involving the pyriform sinus. The lack of anatomic barriers between these sites and a propensity for these tumors to develop in the pyriform sinus and spread outward account for this phenomenon.

Overall prognosis for these tumors is poor. Because of the rich organic lymphatic and vascular networks, aggressive growth and early cervical metastases (compared with cancers at other head and neck sites) characterize these cancers.

A study investigating the clinical course of 21 patients with post-cricoid carcinoma found the 5-year cause-specific survival rate was 52%. All the patients who eventually died did so within 3 years of the treatment. Seven patients had distant metastases, representing a higher frequency as compared with that of patients with recurrence of the primary focus and cervical lymph node metastasis. All of these patients who had been treated by surgery died of the cancer.1

Unfortunately, hypopharyngeal cancers are discovered at a later stage than other head and neck cancers. The delay in diagnosis from symptom onset averages 10 months.2

What Is Post-Cricoid Carcinoma In Celiac Disease and/or Gluten Sensitivity?


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  1. Asakage T, Nakao K, Ebihara Y, Fujishiro Y, Watanabe K. A clinical study of post-cricoid carcinoma. Acta Otolaryngol Suppl. 2007 Dec;(559):118-22. doi: 10.1080/03655230701599354. []
  2. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/848359-overview []