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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Throat hernia

06/21/2007

Question:

My son in law, who is 39, and started smoking at the age of 36, was just diagnosed with stage three throat cancer. He has 2 spots on the back of his throat abut 3 cent. Cancer has not spread according to PET scan and the esphogram was ok..they said he also had a throat hernia (which I have never heard of so I ask questions)..is this something that is operable? how serious is it? He scheduled for chemo to begin within days and then radiation treatments. Thank you very much

Answer:

Thank you for your question. It is difficult to answer your question with the details given, so I will explain some terms in general and then ask you some questions.

The stage of cancer depends on several factors, including site, tumor size, any spread to lymph nodes in the neck (local metastases), any spread to areas beyond the neck (distant metastases).

site: this is very important. There are several areas in the "throat" where cancer can originate and the site of origin is important for determining treatment and prognosis. Some examples include:

vocal cords (glottis)
supraglottis (part of voicebox above cords)
base of tongue (very back of tongue)

If you could find out the origin of the cancer, I could give you some more information.

tumor size: this varies, depending on where the tumor originates from

neck metastases: I am assuming from your report that there are no involved lymph nodes in the neck, but sometimes when physicians say "there is no spread" they are referring to no metastasis in areas outside of the neck, such as the lung.

I do not know what the term "throat hernia" refers to. He could have a hernia in the esophagus, known as a "hiatal hernia" or he could have a "pouch" of tissue somewhere in his throat that the physicians are calling a "throat hernia" - a hernia can refer to a pouch due to a weakened area of tissue. It would be helpful if you could find out where the hernia is coming from and if it has a specific name.

I would very much like to help in giving you all the information you need. If you could answer some of the questions above and give me new questions you have, I will be happy to respond. Thank you.

For more information:

Go to the Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Siddarth M Khosla, MD Siddarth M Khosla, MD
Assistant Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati