According to the American Cancer Society
, the lifetime risk of esophageal cancer in the United States is about one in 125 in men and about one in 417 in women. Esophageal cancer makes up about one percent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States. While this doesn’t sound like a lot of people, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms and get evaluated by a doctor when symptoms appear. The sooner it’s caught, the better your changes for recovery.
The esophagus is a hollow tube that carries food and liquids from your throat to your stomach. The wall of the esophagus is made up of several layers of tissue
, including mucous membrane
, muscle and connective tissue
. Esophageal cancer
starts on the inside lining of the esophagus and spreads outward through the other layers as it grows.
Early esophageal cancer usually does not cause symptoms. Later, you may have symptoms such as
- Painful or difficult swallowing
- Weight loss
- A hoarse voice or cough that doesn't go away
You're at greater risk for getting esophageal cancer if you smoke, drink heavily or have GERD
. Your risk also goes up as you age.
Diagnosis involves the use of imaging tests and a biopsy
. Treatments include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. You might also need nutritional support, since the cancer or treatment may make it hard to swallow.