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Esophageal Cancer

The esophagus is a hollow muscular tube that is responsible for moving food from the throat to the stomach. Esophageal cancer occurs when malignant tumor forms in the lining of the esophagus. As this tumor grows it can affect deeper tissues and muscles of the esophagus. Tumors can appear anywhere along the length of the esophagus, even where the esophagus and stomach meet.

Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer

  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Chronic cough
  • Choking while eating
  • Hiccups

Causes and risk factors of Esophageal Cancer

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Lack of nutritional diet
  • Achalasia – a condition where the muscle at the bottom of the esophagus doesn’t relax properly
  • Reflux disorder
  • Inherited genetic mutations

Prevention of Esophageal Cancer

  • Avoid smoking and tobacco
  • Avoid drinking
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Be physically active

Diagnosis of Esophageal Cancer

  • Endoscopy – In this, a flexible tube equipped with a video lens is passed down your throat and into the esophagus. The doctor can then examine and look for areas of irritation
  • Barium swallow study – In this, you’re made to swallow a liquid that contains barium and then you undergo X-Rays. The barium can then show any changes in the tissue on the X-Ray.

Treatment of Esophageal Cancer

  • Surgery – Surgery to remove cancer can be used along with other treatments. The surgeon would consider the level of cancer spread before the surgery. It might include the removal of the tumor alone, or a portion of the esophagus along with some nearby tissue or in some cases, a part of the stomach.
  • Chemotherapy – This treatment uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells. It does this either by killing the cancer cells or by preventing their further division. It can be done either intravenously or orally. The drugs enter the bloodstream and reach the cancer cells across the body.
  • Radiation Therapy – Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation like X-rays and protons for killing the cancer cells or halting their growth. It is commonly used in combination with chemotherapy. However, sometimes radiation therapy is used to relieve the complications of advanced cancer.
  • Targeted Therapy – This treatment uses drugs that are designed specifically to target the tumor cells. This therapy causes less harm to the normal cells than chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
  • Immunotherapy – It uses the body’s immune system to fight off cancer cells. Substances made in labs or by the body itself are used to boost and restore the body’s immune system and use as a defense against cancer cells.