Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancer: Medical Illustrations

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 12/2016

ON THIS PAGE: You will find a basic drawing of the main body parts affected by these cancers. To see other pages, use the menu.


The lower part of the throat is called the hypopharynx or gullet. It surrounds the larynx. The larynx is a tube-shaped organ located in the front of the neck and at the top of the windpipe or trachea. It contains the vocal folds (vocal cords) and is made up of three parts. The middle section, or glottis, contains the vocal folds. The supraglottis is the area above the vocal folds. The subglottis is the area below the vocal folds that connects the larynx to the windpipe, or trachea, a hollow tube that carries air to the lungs. A flap of tissue called the epiglottis helps protect the airway and prevent food from entering the trachea during swallowing. Copyright 2003 American Society of Clinical Oncology. Robert Morreale/Visual Explanations, LLC.

For medical illustrations showing the different stages of laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancer, please visit the Stages and Grades section.

The next section in this guide is Risk Factors and Prevention. It explains what factors may increase the chance of developing these cancers and what people can do to lower their risk. Or, use the menu to choose another section to continue reading this guide.