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Esophageal Cancer Treatment

General Information About Esophageal Cancer

 

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Esophageal cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the esophagus.

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 at the inside lining of the esophagus and spreads outward through the other layers as it grows.The stomach and esophagus are part of the upper digestive system.
The stomach and esophagus are part of the upper digestive system.

The stomach and esophagus are part of the upper digestive system.

The two most common forms of esophageal cancer are named for the type of cells that become malignant (cancerous):

Smoking, heavy alcohol use, and Barrett esophagus can increase the risk of developing esophageal cancer.

Risk factors include the following:

The most common signs of esophageal cancer are painful or difficult swallowing and weight loss.

These and other symptoms may be caused by esophageal cancer or by other conditions. A doctor should be consulted if any of the following problems occur:

Tests that examine the esophagus are used to detect (find) and diagnose esophageal cancer.

The following tests and procedures may be used:

Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.

The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:

When esophageal cancer is found very early, there is a better chance of recovery. Esophageal cancer is often in an advanced stage when it is diagnosed. At later stages, esophageal cancer can be treated but rarely can be cured. Taking part in one of the clinical trials being done to improve treatment should be considered. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.