September 5, 2023
The oropharynx is a part of the throat that starts just after the oral cavity (the mouth). It is made up of three parts: the tonsils, the base of the tongue, and the soft palate. The tonsils are further divided into the palatine tonsils and the lingual tonsils. The oropharynx includes special tissue that is designed to help protect us from infections that may try to enter our body through our mouth or nose.
The surface of the oropharynx is lined by squamous cells that form a barrier called the epithelium. The tissue below the epithelium is called the stroma. The stroma in the oropharynx is made up mostly of immune cells which makes this tissue look very similar to a lymph node.
The most common type of oropharyngeal cancer is called non-keratinizing squamous cell carcinoma. The most common cause of non-keratinizing squamous cell carcinoma in the oropharynx is long-term infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). Another name for this type of cancer is HPV-associated squamous cell carcinoma.
The most common type of noncancerous tumour in the oropharynx is called a squamous papilloma.