Throat Cancer Surgery & Treatments for Oral Cavity Cancer

Throat cancer surgery is sometimes recommended as part of an overall treatment plan for oral cavity malignancies. There are multiple surgical techniques, as well as several other therapies, including chemotherapy and radiation treatment, that can be used to address throat cancer. The most appropriate option will depend on the stage and extent of the cancer, the patient’s overall health and other factors. In some cases, early stage oral cavity cancer can be treated with radiation therapy or surgery alone, while more advanced cancers may require a multimodal approach designed to shrink a tumor prior to surgery to facilitate its removal.

Some of the most common throat cancer surgery options include:

  • Laser surgery – A surgeon inserts an endoscope (a long, thin tube with a camera and a high-intensity laser at the tip) down the throat to vaporize or remove a tumor.
  • Vocal cord stripping – Utilizing a long surgical instrument, a surgeon removes the outer layers of tissue on the vocal cords for evaluation under a microscope.
  • Cordectomy – A surgeon removes part or all of the vocal cords to treat small tumors that are localized on the tissue surfaces.
  • Hemilaryngectomy – A surgeon removes one of the two vocal cords to address a cancerous growth.
  • Supraglottic laryngectomy – A surgeon removes a portion of the voice box (larynx) above the vocal cords to treat cancer situated above the glottis (the part of the larynx consisting of the vocal cords and a slit-like opening between them).
  • Total laryngectomy – After removing the entire larynx, a surgeon performs a tracheostomy to relocate the windpipe (trachea) and connect it to an opening in the neck (stoma) to provide a new pathway for breathing.
  • Pharyngectomy – A surgeon removes part or all of the throat to address a cancerous tumor.
  • Lymph node removal – A surgeon performs a neck dissection to remove a lymph node and some surrounding healthy tissue.
  • Gastrostomy tube – If the swallowing function is impaired, a surgeon inserts a feeding tube into the stomach to ensure adequate nutrition.
  • Reconstructive procedures – Following throat cancer surgery, the throat can be reconstructed with myocutaneous flaps created by rotating nearby muscle and skin toward the throat or with free flaps created from tissues derived from other areas of the body, such as the intestines or arm muscles.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, our fellowship-trained surgeons are highly skilled in these throat cancer surgery techniques and other procedures for addressing oral cavity cancer. Following surgery, our multispecialty tumor board of cancer specialists can also recommend strategies to enhance a patient’s quality of life. For instance, speech and swallowing rehabilitation may be utilized to help a patient adapt to changes in the throat and larynx. If necessary, a maxillofacial prosthodontist can create a prosthetic device for the patient’s mouth, eye, nose, ear or dental region, or a swallowing prosthesis can be designed to help restore a patient’s ability to swallow.

To consult with the highly specialized oncologists in Moffitt’s Head and Neck Oncology Program about treatment options for oral cavity or throat cancer, including surgery, call 1-888-MOFFITT or complete our new patient registration form. We do not require referrals.