Esophageal cancer is a type of cancer that affects the esophagus, a tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. The accumulation of these extra cells forms a mass of tissue called tumor.
According to the type of cells that are involved, esophageal cancers are classified as:
The exact cause of esophageal cancer is not known, however certain factors such as advancing age, gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), obesity, Barrett's esophagus, diet, smoking, alcohol, chemicals and pollutants may increase your risk of developing esophageal cancer.
In the early stages of esophageal cancer, you may have no symptoms. As the cancer grows you may have weight loss, difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), chest pain, fatigue, frequent choking, indigestion, coughing, and hoarseness.
Your doctor can often detect esophageal cancer by asking you several questions about the symptoms you are experiencing and performing a thorough physical examination. Certain tests may be ordered and could assist in determining the diagnosis and may include:
Esophageal cancer may be treated with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery. Surgery to remove the portion of your esophagus that contains the tumor and nearby lymph nodes is called esophagectomy. The remaining section of the esophagus is connected again to your stomach.