What Is Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer?

When there is a development of a tumor in the food pipe or the esophagus which is a long tube like structure running from the throat through the stomach through which the food passes before reaching the stomach, then it is called as Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer. The tumors usually develops in the inside lining of the esophagus. Tumors can develop anywhere along the length of the esophagus but studies suggest that in United States it occurs in the last half of the esophagus and it is found to occur more in males than females.

Carcinoma Of Esophagus

What Causes Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer?

There is no clear cut cause for development of Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer. Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer develops in the inside lining of the esophagus and can develop anywhere along the esophagus. Studies suggest that Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer develops due to mutations in the DNA which results in the cells growing abnormally to an extent that there is development of a tumor which invades to other parts of the body adjacent to the esophagus like the lungs.

Types of Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer

Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer is divided into two parts depending on the type of cells involved. These types are:

Adenocarcinoma of Esophagus: This type of carcinoma develops in the glands of the esophagus which secrete mucous. These types of cancers usually occur in the lower part of the esophagus. This is the most common form of esophageal cancer found in the United States.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Esophagus: This form of cancer develops on the cells that lie on the surface of the esophagus. These cancers occur in the middle part of the esophagus.

What Are The Risk Factors of Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer?

Studies suggest that if the esophagus is subjected to constant irritation then it can increase the risk for development of Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer. Some of the other risk factors for Carcinoma of Esophagus are:

  • Alcohol abuse
  • People who have chronic reflux disease also are predisposed to Carcinoma of Esophagus
  • Esophageal sphincter dysfunction also increases the risk for development of Carcinoma of Esophagus
  • Drinking extremely hot fluids like a very hot soup on a chronic basis may also irritate the esophagus
  • No eating enough fruits and vegetables may put you at risk for Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer
  • Obesity is also a risk factor for Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer
  • Smokers are at an increased risk for developing Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer.

What Are The Symptoms of Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer?

Some of the symptoms of the Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer are:

  • Dysphagia
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Frequent chest pain
  • Frequent heartburn can be a sign of Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer
  • Frequent bouts of coughing.

How is Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer Diagnosed?

If an individual presents with the above mentioned symptoms then Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer may be suspected. Hence, in order to confirm the diagnosis of Carcinoma of Esophagus the treating physician will perform the following tests:

Endoscopy: The physician will use an endoscope to take a closer look at the esophagus in order to identify any tumors causing the symptoms.

Biopsy: The physician may take a biopsy of the tissues of the esophagus in order to look for any signs of malignancy.

How is Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer Treated?

The treatment for Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer depends on the location and size of the tumor. Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer treatment can be both surgical and nonsurgical with radiation and chemotherapy or both.

Surgical Treatment For Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer: At times surgery is used as a standalone treatment for Carcinoma of Esophagus and at times it is used in combination with other forms of treatment. The surgery usually is different for different sizes of tumor. If an individual has an extremely small tumor in esophagus and the tumor has not spread to other parts of the body then the surgery will be performed to remove the tumor in its entirety along with some part of the surrounding tissue to prevent recurrence of the tumor. In case if the tumor of esophagus is of a relatively large size then a procedure called as esophagectomy is performed in which the diseased part of the esophagus is removed in its entirety and the remainder of the esophagus is connected directly to the stomach. Another surgery performed to remove the tumor in esophagus is called the esophagogastrectomy in which a part of the esophagus along with a part of the stomach is also removed and the remainder of the stomach is again connected to the remainder of the esophagus. Surgery for Carcinoma of Esophagus has its own set of inherent complications like bleeding, infection, and failure of the procedure.

Chemotherapy for Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer: Along with surgery, the next form of treatment for Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer is chemotherapy in which medicines are used to kill the malignant cells and prevent progression of cancer. Chemotherapy is usually done when surgery is not an option for treatment due to the location of the tumor in esophagus. Chemotherapy may be done as a form of treatment alone along with in combination with radiation therapy.

Radiation Therapy For Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer: This is a form of treatment in which laser beams are fired at the site of the tumor to kill the cancer cells. This form of treatment is used either alone or in combination with chemotherapy. Sometimes, radiation therapy and chemotherapy together are used before and after treatment for treatment of Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer.

Some of the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy are sunburn-like eruptions, damage to the adjoining structures liker the lungs and heart. Combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy has shown to be effective in treatment of Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer but it has its inherent set of side effects which may be potentially serious.

How To Prevent Carcinoma of the Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer?

There are certain measures which can be taken in order to prevent Carcinoma of Esophagus or Esophageal Cancer. Some of these measures are:

  • Alcohol Abstinence: Abusing alcohol not only increases the chance for cancer but also increases the chances for other serious conditions hence it is vital to reduce the amount of drinking or even better staying away from it.
  • Smoking: Same is the case with smoking. Staying away from smoking goes a long way in preventing all forms of cancer.
  • Healthy Diet: Eating a healthy diet and maintaining an ideal weight also helps in cutting down the risk for development of Carcinoma of Esophagus. Try and eat a balanced diet and try and eat lots of fruits and vegetables.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: May 19, 2015

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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