Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal Cancer

What is Oesophagus

The oesophagus is a muscular tube that connects the throat with the stomach. It passes in the midline behind the heart. The walls contract in a rhythmic fashion and helps to push the food down.

Types of Cancer

  1. Squamous Cell Cancer – occurs mainly in the upper part of the food pipe
  2. Adenocarcinoma – in the lower part where it joins the stomach

This affects men more than women and commonly happens between 50-60 years of age.

Risk factors

  1. Smoking
  2. Alcohol
  3. Obesity
  4. Familial
  5. Long standing acid reflux = Barrett’s oesophagus
  6. Acid or alkali ingestion

Diagnosis

  1. Endoscopy with a biopsy

  2. CT scan of chest and thorax

  3. PET – CT

  4. Endo Ultrasound

Symptoms

  1. Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  2. Vomiting
  3. Weight loss
  4. Chest pain
  5. Worsening indigestion or heartburn
  6. Vomiting Blood
  7. Coughing or hoarseness

Esophageal Cancer

Depends of the stage, location and comorbidities of the patient.

Squamous cell carcinoma are best treated with Radiotherapy. Adenocarcinoma are best treated with surgery if operable. But most of the time it will be a combination of surgery , chemotherapy and Radiotherapy

Many patients with oesophageal cancer undergo some form of combination therapy with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

Some patients with very early cancer of the oesophagus may undergo an endoscopic resection of the cancer without surgery using techniques such as endoscopic mucosal resection or endoscopic submucosal dissection.

Prevention

Steps to reduce your risk of oesophageal cancer

  1. Quit smoking. 
  2. Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. 
  3. Eat more fruits and vegetables. 
  4. Maintain a healthy weight. 

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