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The hypopharynx is the lowest portion of the pharynx (throat) which surrounds the larynx (voice box) and leads to the esophagus (the tube through which food travels to the stomach). Tobacco use and heavy alcohol consumption are the most common risk factors for cancer of the hypopharynx. Other risk factors for hypopharyngeal cancer include a diet low in vitamins A and E, and Plummer-Vinson syndrome (a rare condition that causes difficulty swallowing). Symptoms of hypopharyngeal cancer may include chronic throat pain, a lump in the neck, ear pain, hoarseness and difficulty or pain with swallowing.