Esophageal cancer is the eighth most common type of cancer.
There are two main types of esophageal cancer which are diagnosed, treated, and controlled in similar ways. The growth of both the cells begins in cells in the inner lining of the esophagus:
Adenocarcinoma of the esophagus: This type is usually found in the lower part of the esophagus, near the stomach. , adenocarcinoma is the most common type of esophageal cancer. It's been increasing since the 1970s.
Squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus: type is usually found in the upper part of the esophagus. This type is becoming less cThis ommon.
Age: Age is the main risk factor for esophageal cancer. The chance of getting this disease goes up as you get older. In the developed countries, most people are 65 years of age or older when they are diagnosed with esophageal cancer.
Gender: Men are three times more likely to develop esophageal cancer as compared to women.
Smoking: People who smoke are more likely than people who don't smoke to develop esophageal cancer.
Heavy drinking: People who tend to have alcoholic drinks daily are more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus than people who don't drink.
Diet: People who consume a diet that lacks fruits and vegetables on a daily basis are more likely to have esophageal cancer. However, more research is needed to understand the relation of esophageal cancer with diet.
Obesity: Being obese increases the risk of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus.
Acid reflux: Acid reflux is the unusual flow of stomach acid into the esophagus. The stomach acid may harm the tissue of the esophagus, leading to adenocarcinoma of the esophagus in some people.
Barrett esophagus: Acid reflux may damage the esophagus and over time cause a condition known as Barrett esophagus. The presence of Barrett esophagus increases the risk of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus.
Having a risk factor doesn't mean that a person will develop cancer of the esophagus. Most people who have risk factors never develop esophageal cancer.
If you experience symptom that indicates the possibility of esophageal cancer, your doctor will find out the exact cause behind it with the help of some physical examination like:
Barium swallow: After you drink a barium solution, you have x-rays taken of your esophagus and stomach. The barium solution makes your esophagus show up more clearly on the x-rays. This test is also called an upper GI series.
Endoscopy: The doctor uses a thin, lighted tube (endoscope) to look down your esophagus. The doctor first numbs your throat with an anesthetic spray, and you may also receive medicine to help you relax. The tube is passed through your mouth or nose to the esophagus. The doctor may also call this procedure upper endoscopy, EGD, or esophagoscopy.
Biopsy: Usually, cancer begins in the inner layer of the esophagus. The doctor uses an endoscope to remove tissue from the esophagus. A pathologist checks the tissue under a microscope for cancer cells. A biopsy is the only sure way to know if cancer cells are present.
Early esophageal cancer may not cause symptoms. As the cancer grows, the most common symptoms are:
People with esophageal cancer have several treatment options. The options are surgery, radiation therapy chemotherapy or a combination of these treatments. For example, radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be given before or after surgery. The treatment that's right for you depends mainly on the following:
Esophageal cancer can be treated with several types of surgery depending on the location of the cancer. Usually, the section of the esophagus with the cancer, lymph nodes, and part of the stomach is removed.
During surgery, the surgeon may place a feeding tube into your small intestine. This tube helps you get enough nutrition while you heal is called feeding Jejunostomy. The time it takes to heal after surgery is different for everyone and depends on the type of surgery. You may be in the hospital for at least one week.
Doctors use two types of radiation therapy to treat esophageal cancer. Some people receive both types
External radiation therapy: The radiation comes from a large machine outside the body. The machine aims radiation at your cancer.. Treatments are usually 5 days a week for several weeks. New advanced technologies like image guided radiotherapy (IGRT) are now available which delivers radiation to the target tumor sparing normal surrounding organs.
Internal radiation therapy Brachytherapy: The doctor numbs your throat with an anesthetic spray and puts a tube into your esophagus so that it can be used to give radiation
Most people with esophageal cancer get chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. The drugs for esophageal cancer are usually given through a vein (intravenous).
Chemotherapy is usually given in cycles. Each cycle has a treatment period followed by a rest period.