Esophageal Cancer

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Esophageal cancer is the seventh-leading cause of cancer death worldwide. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be more than 16,000 new cases of esophageal cancer diagnosed this year and more than 14,000 deaths. Dr. Edward Hill tells us more about this dreaded disease in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

The esophagus is a tube-like organ made up of a lining and surrounding smooth muscle. It brings food from the mouth to the stomach. As is true of any other body organ, cancer can develop in the esophagus.

Esophageal cancer can be either squamous cell carcinoma or adenocarcinoma. Adenocarcinomas usually occur in persons who have gastroesophageal reflux disease, which can, if left untreated, change normal esophageal cells to gland-like adenomatous cells. This is called Barretts esophagus.

Eophageal cancer is more common among men. Other risk factors include older age, smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity and poor nutrition.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease and Barretts esophagus make it much more likely that a person will have esophageal cancer. However, most individuals who have GERD or Barretts esophagus, especially if treated, will not develop esophageal cancer.

Treatment for esophageal cancer depends on the location of the tumor and its spread and may include surgical treatment, radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

Esophageal cancer is often found at a late stage when cure is not possible.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.