Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer

Esophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer with a yearly prevalence of 456000 new cases. In India, it's the fourth most common cause of cancer- related deaths. Esophageal cancer starts when cells in the lining of the esophagus begin to grow out of control. Men are more likely to get esophageal cancer compare to women.


There are two major types of esophageal cancer.

  • Squamous cell carcinoma: The inner layer of the esophagus is generally lined with squamous cells. Cancer beginning from these cells is called squamous cell carcinoma. This type of cancer can go on anywhere along theesophagus, but is most often in the neck region and in the upper two-thirds region of the chest.
  • Adenocarcinoma: Cancers that begins from gland cells (cells that make mucus) are called adenocarcinomas.

Risk factors

Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called as risk factor.Risk factor of esophageal cancer include:

  • Increasing Age
  • Men are more prone to get esophageal cancer compared to women.
  • Use of tobacco and alcohol
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Obesity
  • No physical activity

We don't yet know what exactly causes most esophageal cancers.


  • Difficulty or pain when swallowing
  • Weight loss
  • Pain in the chest, behind the breastbone
  • Coughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Indigestion and heartburn


To diagnose esophageal cancer, your health care professional will analyse your symptoms, medical history, and examine you. In addition, they may order some blood tests and X-rays.

Tests for esophageal cancer may include

  • Barium swallow X-ray test: In this test you drink a liquid that coats your esophagus. This makes the esophagus more clear on theX-ray so that your doctor can identify certain problems.
  • Endoscopy: To examine esophagus, your doctor passes an endoscope, a thin, lighted tube, down your throat into the esophagus. Endoscopic ultrasound uses sound waves to provide further data about the extent of tumor involvement in proximate tissues.
  • Biopsy: During an endoscopy, your doctor takes small cells or tissue from your esophagus. The cells are checked under a microscope for the presence of cancer.

Other tests, including computed tomography (CT) scans, positron emission tomography (PET) scan, thoracoscopy, and laparoscopy, may be carried out to determine if the cancer has spread, or metastasized, outside of the esophagus. This process is called "staging". The doctor needs this data in order to plan your treatment.


As with numerous cancers, chances of survival increases if it is detected early. Unfortunately, by the time esophageal cancer is diagnosed for numerous people, it has spread throughout the esophagus and beyond.

Treatment depends on numerous factors, including the stage of the cancer and the overall health of the patient.

  • Surgery: Part of the esophagus or possibly some nearby tissue may be removed.
  • Radiation therapy: It uses high-powered energy beams to kill cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy: Powerful medicines that attack cancer cells throughout the body; generally used in combination with radiation therapy and/ or surgery.
  • Targeted therapy: Newer treatments that target specific aspects of a cancer to inhibit cancer growth and spread.
  • Immunotherapy: Boost the immune system to attack cancer cells.
  • Photodynamic therapy: kills cancer cells with a special laser light.
  • Electrocoagulation: Uses electric current to kill cancer cells.
  • Cryotherapy: Freezes cancer cells to help shrink a tumor.

Endoscopic mucosal resection may be done to treat pre-cancers or veritably small early cancers by removing the inner lining of the esophagus. Radiofrequency ablation treatment using a device that targets cancer cells with radiofrequency energy is sometimes used for early cancers.

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