What is esophageal cancer?

Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer

Esophageal cancer is a growth of abnormal cells in the esophagus, the muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach. People who regularly use tobacco and drink alcohol have a higher risk for this form of cancer.

Symptoms include difficulty swallowing and weight loss. Also, hoarseness, chest or back pain, or coughing when swallowing may occur. The person may spit up or vomit bloody mucus.

Treatment may include any combination of surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. It may also include immunotherapy or targeted therapy.

What are the symptoms of esophageal cancer?

Symptoms of this type of cancer can include:

  • Trouble swallowing.
  • Feeling like there's something stuck in your throat.
  • Pain when you swallow.
  • Weight loss.
  • Pain behind your breastbone (sternum).
  • Hoarseness and coughing.
  • Stomach upset (indigestion) and heartburn.

How is esophageal cancer treated?

Treatment for esophageal cancer is based on the stage of the cancer and other things, such as your overall health. The main treatment options include endoscopic treatment, surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Other options may include targeted therapy or immunotherapy.

How is esophageal cancer diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask you questions about your health. He or she will do a physical exam. Tests that may be done include blood tests, imaging tests like a CT scan or PET scan, and an endoscopy to look inside the esophagus.

How can you care for yourself when you have esophageal cancer?

Taking medicines as prescribed and getting enough sleep may help you feel better. If it's hard to eat, talk to your doctor or a dietitian. Get some physical activity each day if you can. Consider joining a support group or talking with a counselor.

What puts you at risk for esophageal cancer?

Things that make you more likely to get esophageal cancer include smoking, heavy alcohol use, and having ongoing (chronic) GERD. When you have GERD, acid from your stomach backs up into the esophagus.

What is esophageal cancer?

Esophageal cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in your esophagus. That's the hollow tube that connects your throat to your stomach. The cancer most often starts in the cells that line the inside of the esophagus.

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