Esophageal cancer is a type of cancer which affects the esophagus, a hollow tube connecting the throat with the stomach. The function of the esophagus is to move food from the throat to the stomach. The esophageal cancer mostly begins at the cells which are present at the inner lining of the esophagus. The condition can develop anywhere inside the esophagus. Statistically it has been found that more men are affected by this condition than women. Esophageal cancer is also sixth most widely occurring type of cancer which leads to death all over the world. The rate of incidence rates tends to vary from one location to another.
These are the main symptoms associated with esophageal cancer:
Early stages of esophageal cancer generally do not show any symptoms.
The esophageal cancer stages are rather complex and stated below:
The Stages of esophageal cancer are described as Stage I to IV, where I is benign and IV describes the situation where the tumor has metastasized and spread to the other organs of the body.
The exact causes responsible for esophageal cancer are not known. The various types of esophageal cancer, namely adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, small cell carcinoma, lymphoma, sarcoma, choriocarcinoma and melanoma may have varying responsible factors. There are of course some risk factors that have been associated with esophageal cancer, namely
Esophageal cancer diagnosis is mainly performed by biopsy and endoscopy. Endoscopy is carried out by inserting a tube that has a camera attached to it. Typically the patient is sedated during the process of endoscopy. Biopsy is performed by collecting from sample cells from the tumor and inspecting it under a microscope. Once the presence of esophageal cancer has been determined, the doctor may try to determine the extent to which the cancer cells have spread inside the body. This is something that can be done by Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS), Computerized tomography (CT), plain X-rays and Positron emission tomography (PET).
Typically esophageal cancer is treated with surgery, although the type of surgical procedure to be used may vary with different patients. An endoscopic surgery can be done to remove small sized tumors. Esophagectomy and esophagogastrectomy are the other principal methods of treatment associated with this type of cancer. The doctor may also recommend chemotherapy and radiation therapy or a combination of both as a mode of treatment. Other treatments that can be used for curing this condition include photodynamic therapy and targeted therapy. If there are complications associated with esophageal cancer, the doctor may recommend methods for relieving esophageal obstruction and use of a feeding tube.
Prevention of esophageal cancer is possible by making certain lifestyle changes. If you have the habit of smoking, you can bring down the possibility of esophageal cancer in a major way. You should also stick to a diet of vegetables and fruits so that the risk of this cancer is reduced. Do not consume alcohol on a regular basis as it can cause squamous cell carcinoma. If you are obese, try to lose weight as this can prove to be beneficial. If you use anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen, make sure that you limit their intake by asking your doctor.