2 Indications and current treatments

2 Indications and current treatments


Malignancies in the oropharynx (which includes the tonsils, the base of the tongue and the soft palate) are usually squamous cell carcinomas originating in the epithelial cell lining. The incidence of these malignancies has increased significantly in younger patients, probably because of the increased prevalence of human papillomavirus infection. Presenting features include a persistent sore throat, a lesion in the mouth or throat, white or red patches that may be swollen or bleeding, and pain in the ear. Patients tend to present with advanced or sometimes metastatic disease.


Oropharyngeal malignancies can be treated by surgery (using open or minimally invasive approaches for tumour resection and reconstruction), radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these methods. Surgical resection may include neck dissection to remove lymph nodes. When the malignancy is considered to be unresectable, palliative chemotherapy and radiotherapy can be used.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)