Esophageal Cancer Treated by Mercy Specialists
Mercy's cancer surgeons, medical oncologists and gastroenterologists work in concert to diagnose and treat esophagus disorders, including esophageal cancer.
Esophageal cancer is the abnormal growth of cells in the esophagus, a long hollow tube that connects the throat to the stomach, permitting food to pass.
Types of Esophageal Cancer
There are two types of esophageal cancer, adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
- Adenocarcinoma esophageal cancer is the most familiar type of esophageal cancer. This form of cancer occurs in the glandular cells in the lining of the esophagus. Most often, adenocarcinoma esophageal cancer happens in the lower part of esophagus near the stomach.
- Squamous cell esophageal cancer occurs in the flat cells located along the esophagus, and is mostly located in the upper and middle portion of the esophagus.
What are the risk factors for Esophageal Cancer?
If you are African American, you are more likely to be diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, and if you are Caucasian, adenocarcinoma esophageal cancer is more common. Other risk factors that may exasperate the esophagus and cause esophageal cancer may include:
- GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
- Overuse of alcohol or tobacco
- Barrett’s disease
- Diet low in fruits and vegetables
- Radiation treatment
- Age 55 and older
- Exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace
Esophageal cancer symptoms often are not present until late in the cancer process. Trouble swallowing and a sensation of food being caught in the throat or chest are common esophageal cancer symptoms. Other esophageal cancer symptoms can include heartburn, indigestion, chest pain, or weight loss.
Barrett’s esophagus is a precancerous condition of the esophagus and increases the risk of cancer. Patients with Barrett’s esophagus should be monitored closely for the development of esophageal cancer.
An esophageal cancer diagnosis can be made by performing:
- Endoscopy – a tube with a camera is inserted into the esophagus to examine the esophagus lining as well as take tissue samples for a biopsy
- Chromoendoscopy – use of nontoxic dyes during an endoscopy
- Barium swallow test – after drinking a thick liquid that coats the esophagus lining to make it easier to see, X-rays are taken to examine the esophagus
Esophageal cancer is treated using surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of the treatment options. The cancer stage and the patient’s overall health helps determine the extent of surgery needed. Surgery for esophageal cancer can involve the removal of:
- The tumor
- A part of the esophagus
- A part of the esophagus and a part of the stomach