Esophageal cancer usually originates in the inner layers of the lining of the esophagus and grows outward. In time, the tumor can obstruct the passage of food and liquid, making swallowing painful and difficult. Since most patients are not diagnosed until the late stages of the disease, esophageal cancer is associated with poor quality of life and low survival rates. In general, esophageal cancer occurs more frequently in men than in women.
Dr. Navneet Sharda provides this information as an educational source. It is not intended as a substitute for a consultation with a qualified healthcare provider.
As per Dr. Nav Sharda, The exact cause of esophageal cancer is unknown, although many investigators believe that chronic irritation of the esophagus is a major culprit. Often there is a long history of smoking and drinking hard liquor. Unfortunately, symptoms generally don’t appear until the tumor has grown so large that the patient cannot be cured. Dysphasia (trouble swallowing or a sensation of having food stuck in the throat or chest) is the most common symptom.
These and other symptoms may be caused by esophageal cancer or by other conditions. A doctor should be consulted if any of the following problems occur:
The following tests and procedures may be used:
Treatment for esophageal cancer is determined by the stage of the disease and the patient’s general health. The most important distinction to make is whether the cancer is curable. If the cancer is in the early stages, cure may be possible. If the cancer is advanced or if the patient will not tolerate major surgery, treatment is usually directed at palliation (relief of symptoms only) instead of cure.
Stage ll has two sub stages
There are different types of treatment for patients with esophageal cancer. Five types of standard treatment are used:
Surgery: Surgery is the most common treatment for cancer of the esophagus. Part of the esophagus may be removed in an operation called an esophagectomy
Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy.
External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer.
Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer.
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
Laser therapy: Laser therapy is a cancer treatment that uses a laser beam (a narrow beam of intense light) to kill cancer cells.
Electrocoagulation: Electrocoagulation is the use of an electric current to kill cancer cells.
Palliation: In addition to surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, other palliative measures can provide symptomatic relief. Dilatation of the narrowed portion of the esophagus with soft tubes can provide short-term relief of dysphasia. Placement of a flexible, self-expanding stent within the narrowed portion is also useful in allowing more food intake.