The primary cause of squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx is long-term exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV). Other potential risk factors include smoking, alcohol consumption, and exposure to second-hand smoke.
The diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx is made through physical examination, imaging tests, and biopsies. The physical exam may involve a visual inspection of the neck and oropharynx, as well as a nasopharyngoscopy to examine the back of the throat. Imaging tests such as x-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans may be used to determine the size, location, and spread of the cancer. A biopsy may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.
The differential diagnosis for squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx includes other types of cancer (e.g., laryngeal cancer, nasopharyngeal cancer, and salivary gland cancer), as well as benign conditions such as cysts, ulcers, and polyps.
The treatment of squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx depends on the stage of the cancer. Surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy are the most common treatments. Surgery may involve the removal of the tumor and some surrounding tissue. Radiation therapy is used to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Chemotherapy can be used to target cancer cells throughout the body.
The prognosis for squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx depends on the stage of the cancer and the individual’s overall health. Early-stage cancers have a higher likelihood of successful treatment and a good prognosis. However, advanced-stage cancers have a lower chance of successful treatment and a poorer prognosis.