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Esophageal Cancer - a Rare Fatal Cancer

Published on Jan 23, 2017 and last reviewed on Apr 21, 2022   -  5 min read


Carcinoma of the esophagus is a rare but fatal carcinoma. It is more prevalent in males, and commonly affects the lower socioeconomic group. Read the article to know about its causes, types, symptoms, and treatment.

Esophageal Cancer - a Rare Fatal Cancer

What Is an Esophageal Carcinoma?

The esophagus is nothing but a hollow muscular tube responsible for migrating the food from the throat to the belly. Esophageal carcinoma is the cancer of the muscular tube that runs from the throat to the stomach. It can happen when a cancerous tumor forms in the covering of the esophagus. As the tumor progresses, it can alter the deep tissues and muscle of the esophagus. Cancer can appear anywhere along the esophagus's length, even where the esophagus and the stomach meet.

What Are the Types of Esophageal Carcinoma?

Types of esophageal cancer are:

1. Squamous Cell Carcinoma - incidence is reducing gradually.

2. Adenocarcinoma - incidence is increasing gradually.

What are the Causes of Esophageal Carcinoma?

The causes of esophagus cancer are:

What Is the Predisposition of Esophageal Carcinoma?

  1. Cervical esophagus - 10%.

  2. Middle esophagus - 35%.

  3. Lower esophagus - 55%, the most common.

What are the Clinical Features of Esophageal Carcinoma?

What Are the Stages Of Esophageal Cancer?

Stages of esophageal cancer may include:

Achalasia may have to be ruled out in malignant tumors due to the presence of ulcerations. Ulcerations are not commonly seen in benign tumors.

What are Investigations to be done for an Esophageal Carcinoma?

What are the Treatment methods for Esophageal Carcinoma?

One of the main goals of treatment is to stop or reduce the development of Barrett's esophagus by treating and managing acid reflux. Esophageal cancer is a treatable condition in most cases, but it is rarely curable. An overall 5-year survival rate in patients responsive to definitive treatment varies from 5% to 30%. The particular patient with a very early disease has a better possibility of survival.

1) Surgical Resection:

  1. Endoscopic mucosal resection.

  2. Esophagectomy by various approaches.

2) Chemotherapy:

3) Radiofrequency ablation, which applies heat to eliminate abnormal esophagus tissue. It may be recommended after endoscopic resection.

4) Cryotherapy utilizes an endoscope to use a cold liquid or gas to irregular cells in the esophagus. The cells are permitted to warm up and later are frozen again. The period of freezing and thawing destroys the abnormal cells.

5) Palliative Therapy:

  1. Management of malnutrition.

  2. Management of tracheoesophageal fistula.

  3. Management of dysphagia.

  4. Repeated endoscopic dilatation.

  5. Gastrostomy or jejunostomy.

  6. Expansive metal stent.

  7. Endoscopic fulguration of tumors by lasers.

Attempted chemoradiotherapy followed by a surgical resection may yield better results.

What is Barrett's esophagus?

Barrett's esophagus is a premalignant condition, and there is no reliable non-histological marker of developing carcinoma or dysplasia. Bisphosphonates may increase the occurrence of Barrett's esophagus. Barrett's esophagus increases the risk of acquiring adenocarcinoma, the most prevalent type of esophageal cancer. But if Barrett's esophagus does transform into cancer, it is a gradual process that takes many years. The risk is small, also in people who have precancerous alterations in their esophagus cells. Luckily, most of the people with Barrett's esophagus will nevermore develop esophageal cancer. Factors that aggravate Barrett's Esophagus are:

People who are more prone to acquire Barrett's esophagus are:

Frequently Asked Questions


Does the Patient With Esophageal Cancer Feel Ill?

Yes, the patient feels ill due to a persistent cough. The patient also has chest pain, hoarseness of voice, loss of weight, and breathing problems. If the problem persists for a longer time, you have to contact your doctor immediately.


Is Esophageal Cancer an Aggressive Condition?

Cancer in the esophagus is a very aggressive condition. The main problem with this type of cancer is that no symptoms are expressed until cancer reaches a severe stage. The grade three cancer spreads more quickly and in an aggressive manner.


What Are the Risk Factors of Esophageal Cancer?

The risk factors of esophageal cancer are:
- People aged between 45 and 70 years.
- Obesity.
- Race.
- Tobacco.
- Male gender.
- Alcohol.
- Malnutrition.


How Common Is Esophageal Cancer?

Esophageal cancer is the seventh most common cause of death in men. In the United States of America, only one percent of the cases are recorded to be esophageal cancer. The rate of occurrence of esophageal cancer was noted to be higher in other Asian and African countries.


Where Does Esophageal Cancer Start to Spread?

The spreading of cancer begins in the esophageal walls and slowly enters the lymph nodes surrounding the esophageal region. Esophageal cancer then proceeds into a more complicated stage involving the lung, bones, liver, brain, and adrenal glands.


What Are the Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer?

The symptoms of esophageal cancer are:
- Difficulty in swallowing.
- Coughing.
- Unintentional weight loss.
- Chest pain.
- Heartburn.


Can Burping Be a Sign of Esophageal Cancer?

In some patients, excessive burping can be an indicating sign of esophageal cancer or any other type of cancer. However, it is not possible to make a confirmatory diagnosis with the burping sign. If the patient is experiencing excessive burping, the patient has to check with the doctor to identify the exact cause.


What Are the Types of Esophageal Cancer?

The different types of esophageal cancer are:
- Squamous cell carcinoma.
- Adenocarcinoma.
- Melanoma.
- Small cell carcinoma.
- Lymphoma.
- Sarcoma.
- Choriocarcinoma.


How Is Esophageal Cancer Diagnosed?

The various diagnostic methods for the detection of esophageal cancer are:
- Endoscopic ultrasound.
- Bronchoscopy
- Positron emission tomography.
- Computerized tomography.


Can Esophageal Cancer Be Identified in Blood Tests?

If the esophageal cancer is causing anemia due to the excessive bleeding from the tumor, in such cases, blood tests can be helpful for suspecting the condition of esophageal cancer. If you are confused about the diagnosis, you can get help from


When Can the Esophageal Cancer Be Identified?

The condition of esophageal cancer can be identified only in the later stages. After the spreading of the disease starts, the symptoms become noticeable. Some patients are known to die within a year of diagnosis because the symptoms are usually subtle to be identified at an earlier stage.


Can Cancer in the Esophagus Be Cured?

It is not possible to completely cure the conditions. The symptoms can be controlled and managed in an effective manner if the treatment is started at an early stage. The average lifespan of the patients affected by esophageal cancer is about five years.


What Are the Treatment Options for Esophageal Cancer?

The most recommended treatment options for esophageal cancer are:
- Chemotherapy.
- Radiation therapy.
- Targeted drug therapy.
- Immunotherapy.
In most advanced stages of cancer, surgical methods would be helpful.

Last reviewed at:
21 Apr 2022  -  5 min read




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