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Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer is a cancer from the esophagus (the food pipe). The cancer begins in the cells that line the inside of the esophagus. Usually this happens in the lower portion of the esophagus.

Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer

  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Chest pain, pressure or burning sensation
  • Indigestion or heartburn that continues to worsen
  • Coughing and/or hoarseness
  • Prior diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus (chronic acid reflux)

Types of Esophageal Cancer

  • Adenocarcinoma. This is the most common form of esophagus cancer. This type of cancer begins in the cells of mucus=secreting glands in the esophagus (which is in the lower part of the esophagus.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma. These cells are thin, flat cells that line the surface of the esophagus. This usually occurs in the middle of the esophagus.

Factors that may irritate these cells may include:

  • Alcohol
  • Having bile reflux
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Drinking hot liquids
  • Not eating enough fruits and vegetables
  • GERD
  • Obesity
  • Barrett’s esophagus
  • Radiation treatment to the chest or upper abdomen
  • Smoking

Diagnosis of Esophageal Cancer

Your Primary Care Physician (PCP) may refer you to a gastroenterologist, who may perform an EGD. An EGD is a procedure that examines the esophagus and removes small amounts of tissue to be biopsied. Once diagnosed with esophagus cancer, you may develop complications, such as:

  • Difficulty or impossible to swallow food and liquids
  • Pain
  • Bleeding in the esophagus

Treatment of Esophageal Cancer

Your gastroenterologist will refer you to a surgeon who will discuss your options.