Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer is cancer that occurs in the esophagus-a long, hollow tube that runs from our throat to your stomach. Your esophagus carries food you swallow to your stomach to be digested. Esophageal cancer usually begins in the cells that line the inside of the esophagus. Esophageal cancer can occur anywhere along the esophagus, but in people in the United States, it occurs most often in the lower portion of the esophagus. More men than women get esophageal cancer. Signs and symptoms of esophageal cancer include difficulty swallowing, unexplained weight loss, chest pain, pressure or burning, worsening indigestion or heartburn, and/or coughing or hoarseness. Early esophageal cancer typically causes no sign or symptoms.

Esophageal cancer is classified according to the type of cells that are involved. The type of esophageal cancer you have helps determine your treatment options. Adenocarcinoma begins in the cells of mucus-secreting glands, occurs most often in the lower portion of the esophagus, and is the most common form of esophageal cancer in the United States, and it affects primarily white men. Squamous cell carcinomas are flat, thin cells that line the surface of the esophagus. This type usually occurs in the middle of the esophagus and is the most prevalent esophageal cancer worldwide.

It is thought that chronic irritation of the esophagus may contribute to the DNA changes that cause esophageal cancer. Factors that cause irritation in the cells of your esophagus and increase your risk of esophageal cancer include drinking alcohol, bile reflux, esophageal stricture, drinking very hot liquids, eating a diet low in fruits and vegetables, GERD, obesity, Barrett’s esophagus, and smoking.
As esophageal cancer advances, it can cause complication such as: obstruction of the esophagus, pain, and bleeding. Cancer may make it difficult or impossible for the food and liquid to pass through your esophagus. Treatment options for esophageal cancer are determined by the type and stage of your cancer and may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or palliative measures.

If you or someone you know is having any or the signs and symptoms or worsening of symptoms, you should seek the care of a gastroenterologist. Texarkana Gastroenterology Consultants is the largest gastroenterology practice in the area, with 4 physicians and two mid-level providers.

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