Oesophageal Cancer: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Oesophagus cancer is not necessarily a rare disease, but it is not that common too. In UK, it is estimated to be the ninth most frequently occurring cancer that affects in excess of 8,500 people per year. Cancer of the oesophagus affects men more than women with most of the patients having their ages in the 60s. The average age at which the diagnosis of this cancer is usually appeared is around 72.

What Is Oesophageal Cancer?

Oesophageal cancer targets the gullet or the esophagus. Although it is not that common, it is among the most dangerous types of cancers.

The gullet which is an important part that constitutes the digestive system is medically known as oesophagus. It is the tube that connects the throat with the stomach and is responsible for the carrying of the food down. The oesophagus has two parts; the first one is present at the back of the trachea or the windpipe while the second one is present in the chest in between the heart and the spine.   

Types of Oesophageal Cancer

Oesophagus cancer is of two different types.

What Causes Oesophageal Cancer?

A single abnormal cell becomes the reason for the development of a cancerous tumor. The specific reason for the conversion of a cell into a cancerous tumor is unknown. An alteration in the genes of the cell is considered to be the reason behind the abnormal multiplication of the cells in an uncontrollable manner. The following are the risk factors:

Tobacco

Smoking any kind of tobacco whether in the form of cigarettes, cigars or pipes can increase your chances of getting oesophageal cancer.

Alcohol

Excessive drinking of alcohol is one of the major risk factors for oesophageal cancer. People who smoke regularly and drink excessively have a much higher chances of developing oesophageal cancer.

Obesity

Obese people have a much higher risk of getting oesophageal cancer.

Barrett’s Oesophagus and Acid Reflux

Barrett’s Oesophagus and Acid Reflux can irritate the oesophagus and end up making changes to the cells there. If you suffer from this condition then you have a higher chance of developing this cancer.

Achalasia

Achalasia is a condition in which the muscles of the oesophagus are unable to relax and expand easily. Patients suffering from Achalasia are prime suspects for developing oesophageal cancer.


so you can prevent the occurance of this cancer by:

What Are the Symptoms of Oesophageal Cancer?

In the early stages when the cancer is smaller in size, oesophageal cancer does not show any kind of symptoms. In fact, symptoms of this cancer do not appear until it has reached an advanced level.

Oesophageal Cancer Diagnosis and Staging

An endoscopic examination is performed for diagnosing oesophageal cancer. The process involves the insertion of an endoscope, which is essentially a long luminous tube containing a small camera, into the oesophagus. The camera provides pictures of the inside of the oesophagus to the doctors so that they can have a look at the area that might have become cancerous.

The location and size of the oesophageal tumors determines the cancer stage the patient is in.

Doctors can make use of biopsies, CT scan, nuclear bone scans and chest x-rays to confirm the diagnosis of oesophageal cancer and determine the stage it is in.

Oesophageal Cancer Treatment

The health of the patient and the stage of the oesophageal cancer he is suffering from are the factors that determine which type of oesophagus cancer treatment can be given to him. Patients who have advanced lung or heart issues are not candidates for receiving aggressive treatment options like chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In most of the cases, the cancer has developed so much that usual treatment options do not even work. For such cases, the doctors recommend the following treatment methods.

For healthy patients, the following treatment methods are indicated:

Prognosis

If the doctor is able to diagnose oesophageal cancer at an earlier stage, then there is a 30% chance that the patient might survive and live a long life. However, if the cancer has metastasized to other parts of the body, then long-term survival becomes highly unlikely. If the cancer has reached the muscle layer of the oesophagus, then there is a strong chance that it is going to come back following surgery. Continuous follow-up is required by patients who have recovered from oesophageal cancer.

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