Esophageal cancer is cancer that occurs in the esophagus — a long, hollow tube that runs from your throat to your stomach. The esophagus carries food you swallow to your stomach to be digested. It usually begins in the cells that line the inside of the esophagus. Along the esophagus it can occur anywhere.

Signs and symptoms:

•Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)

•Weight loss without trying

•Chest pain, pressure or burning

•Fatigue

•Frequent choking while eating

•Indigestion or heartburn

•Coughing or hoarseness

Early esophageal cancer typically causes no signs or symptoms.

Causes:

It's not clear what causes esophageal cancer. When cells in your esophagus develop errors (mutations) in their DNA this cancer occurs. The errors make cells divide and grow out of control. The amassing of abnormal cells form a tumor in the esophagus and this can grow to invade nearby structures and spread to other parts of the body.

Types

It is classified according to the type of cells that are involved. The type of it you have helps determine your treatment options. Types include:

•Adenocarcinoma. It begins in the cells of mucus-secreting glands in the esophagus. It most often occurs in the lower portion of the esophagus. It is the most common form of esophageal cancer and it affects primarily white men.

•Squamous cell carcinoma. The squamous cells are thin, flat cells that line the surface of the esophagus. It occurs most often in the middle of the esophagus. It is the most prevalent esophageal cancer worldwide.

•Other rare types. Rare forms of esophageal cancer include lymphoma, choriocarcinoma, melanoma, small cell cancer and sarcoma.

Risk factors:

It's thought that chronic irritation of your esophagus may contribute to the DNA changes that cause esophageal cancer. Facts that cause irritation in the cells of your esophagus and increase your risk of it include:

•Drinking alcohol

•Having bile reflux

•Chewing tobacco

•Having trouble in swallowing because of an esophageal sphincter that won't relax (achalasia)

•Drinking very hot liquids

•Eating few fruits and vegetables

•Eating foods preserved in lye

•Having gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

•Being obese

•In the cells of the esophagus having precancerous changes (Barrett's esophagus)

•Undergoing radiation treatment to the upper abdomen or chest.

•Smoking

Other risk factors include

•Being male

•Being between the ages of 45 and 70

Treatment:

The treatments that would be receive for esophageal cancer are based on the type of cells involved in the cancer, the stage of the cancer and the overall health of the patient.

•Surgery

It can be used alone or even in combination with other treatments to remove the cancer.

•Chemotherapy

It is a drug treatment that uses chemicals to kill cancer cells. In people with esophageal cancer Chemotherapy drugs are typically used before (neoadjuvant) or after (adjuvant) surgery. It can also be combined with radiation therapy.

•Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-powered energy beams to kill cancer cells. It is most often combined with chemotherapy in people with esophageal cancer. It can be used after or before surgery. It is also used to relieve complications of advanced esophageal cancer.

Author's Bio: 

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