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Esophageal Cancer

  • What is it:

  • The cells lining the esophagus grow uncontrollably and eventually form a tumor.

  • Where is it:

  • The esophagus

  • Who is at risk:

  • People aged 45-70
  • Males
  • African Americans
  • Tobacco Use
  • Alcohol Use
  • Barrett’s Esophagus
  • Diets low in fruits and vegetables
  • Obesity
  • Lye ingestion
  • Alchalasia - lower muscular ring of the esophagus fails to relax during swallowing of food and increases the risk of squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Medical History of cancers

  • How is it diagnosed:

  • Barium Swallow, Esophagoscopy, Upper endoscopy, Bronchoscopy, CT Scan, MRI, PET, Bone scan.

Stages:

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  • Stage I: Only found in the top layers of cells lining the esophagus.
  • Stage II: Cancer goes deeper into the lining of the esophagus, or it spreads to nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage III: Cancer goes deeper still and may have invaded nearby tissues or lymph nodes.
  • Stage IV: Cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This type of cancer can spread to almost anywhere in the body.

Signs:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Pressure in the chest
  • Severe and unexplained weight
  • Pain in the throat or back
  • Hoarseness
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing up blood
  • Frequent choking on food

Prevention:

  • The best ways to prevent cancer of the esophagus are to quit (or never start) using tobacco and to limit the use of alcohol.

Treatment:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Laser Therapy
  • Photodynamic Therapy

Interesting Facts:

According to the American Cancer Society, less than 1 percent (0.4 percent to 0.5 percent) of the people with Barrett's esophagus progress to esophageal cancer in a given year.