What is Esophageal Cancer?
Esophageal cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the esophagus, the muscular tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. The esophagus is responsible for moving food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach.
Esophageal cancer can develop in any part of the esophagus, but is most commonly found in the lower part of the esophagus near the stomach. There are two main types of esophageal cancer:
- Squamous cell carcinoma: This type of cancer occurs in the cells that line the surface of the esophagus and is more common in developing countries.
- Adenocarcinoma: This type of cancer occurs in the cells that produce mucus and is more common in developed countries.
Risk factors for esophageal cancer include:
- Tobacco use
- Alcohol consumption
- Barrett’s esophagus (a condition in which the tissue lining the esophagus is replaced by abnormal cells)
- Chronic acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD)
- Poor nutrition
- Being overweight or obese
- Older age
Symptoms of esophageal cancer may include:
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
- Pain or pressure in the chest
- Persistent heartburn
- Weight loss
- Chronic cough
Diagnosis of esophageal cancer typically involves a physical exam, endoscopy (a procedure that allows a doctor to look inside the esophagus), biopsy (removal of a small tissue sample for examination), and imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI.
Treatment for esophageal cancer depends on the stage and location of the cancer, as well as the patient’s overall health. Options for treatment include:
- Surgery to remove the cancer
- Radiation therapy to destroy cancer cells
- Chemotherapy to slow the growth and spread of cancer cells
- Photodynamic therapy, a type of treatment that uses light and a special drug to kill cancer cells
- Stent placement, a procedure that involves placing a metal mesh device inside the esophagus to keep it open and help with swallowing
In conclusion, esophageal cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the esophagus, the muscular tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. Risk factors for esophageal cancer include tobacco use, alcohol consumption, Barrett’s esophagus, and GERD, among others. Symptoms may include difficulty swallowing, pain or pressure in the chest, and weight loss. Treatment options for esophageal cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, photodynamic therapy, and stent placement.