What is Esophageal Cancer?
This is a condition in which cancer affects the lining of the esophagus, the muscular tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. Cancer develops in either the upper or lower portions of the esophagus, and often occurs as a result of frequent disturbance to the esophagus by acid reflux.
Early esophageal cancer may not cause symptoms. As the cancer grows, the most common symptoms are:
- Food gets stuck in the esophagus, and food may come back up
- Pain when swallowing
- Pain in the chest or back
- Weight loss
- A hoarse voice or cough that doesn’t go away within 2 weeks
Usually, cancer begins in the inner layer of the esophagus. The doctor uses an endoscope to remove tissue from the esophagus. A pathologist checks the tissue under a microscope for cancer cells. A biopsy is the only sure way to know if cancer cells are present.
People with esophageal cancer have several treatment options. The options are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these treatments. For example, radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be given before or after surgery.