The pharynx is a hollow tube about five inches long that starts behind the nose and leads to the upper food pipe (esophagus) and the upper windpipe (trachea).
The pharynx has three parts:
More than 13,000 throat cancers are diagnosed in the United States every year, affecting about three in every 100,000 Americans. The main risk factors for throat cancers are tobacco use and heavy drinking. Infection with the sexually transmitted Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is also a significant risk factor, especially for oropharyngeal cancers.
The chance of a cure in throat cancer patients is high when the cancer is diagnosed at an early stage. Survival rates also vary by the location of the cancer. Overall, the five-year survival rate is over 65 percent for cancers of the oropharynx, and about 30 percent for cancers of the hypopharynx.