The esophagus is the tube that transports food from the throat to the stomach. Esophageal cancer is the growth of cancer cells the esophagus.
There are two main types of esophageal cancer:
Squamous cell cancer—arises from the cells that line the upper part of the esophagus
Adenocarcinoma—arises from glandular cells that are present at the junction of the esophagus and stomach
Cancer occurs when cells in the body divide out of control. If cells keep dividing, a mass of tissue forms. These are called growths or tumors. If the tumor is malignant, it is cancer. They can invade nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body.
The structure and location of the esophagus makes it easy for cancer to spread very early. This can make a cure more difficult. People who have related conditions, especially reflux, should discuss regular screening tests with their doctor. This may include endoscopy.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
The use of drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be given in many forms. This can include by pill, injection, and via a catheter. The drugs enter the bloodstream. It travels through the body. It will kill mostly cancer cells. Some healthy cells may also be killed.
Chemotherapy alone will not cure this type of cancer. It is only used when the cancer has already spread and cannot be cured. At this point it is used to help shrink the tumor and help ease pain or control nausea.
Chemoradiotherapy or Combined Modality Therapy
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy together are better than radiotherapy alone. It has also been shown that these two treatments may be as effective as surgery alone.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are followed by a surgery. This has been shown to be a most aggressive form of therapy. It may be the best way to cure a patient of their disease.
High-intensity light used to try to kill cancer cells.
A combination of drugs and special lights used to try to kill cancer cells.
This therapy is a promising treatment approach but is only appropriate in a very small number of patients. There are limits of how far the infrared light source will travel into the cancer itself. The tumor must be very small (smaller than ¼ inch thick). It must not involve any lymph nodes or other structures.
To help prevent esophageal cancer:
Don't smoke or use other tobacco products.
Drink alcohol only in moderation. Moderate alcohol intake is no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.
Get medical treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a