The esophagus is the hollow, muscular tube that moves food and
liquid from the throat to the stomach. The wall of the esophagus is made up of several layers of tissue,
including mucous membrane, muscle, and connective tissue. Esophageal cancer
starts in the inside lining of the esophagus and spreads outward through the
other layers as it grows.
See the following PDQ summaries for more information about esophageal cancer:
Men are about three times more likely than women to have esophageal cancer. There are more new cases of esophageal adenocarcinoma each year and fewer new cases of squamous cell carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus is found more often in blacks than in whites. The chance of developing esophageal cancer increases with age.
Anything that increases the chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. People who think they may be at risk should discuss this with their doctor.
Risk factors for squamous cell esophageal cancer include the following:
Risk factors for esophageal adenocarcinoma include the following: