Oesophageal cancer is a type of cancer that affects the oesophagus, a tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. The accumulation of these extra cells forms a mass of tissue called a tumour.
According to the type of cells that are involved, oesophageal cancers are classified as:
The exact cause of oesophageal cancer is not known, however certain factors such as advancing age, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), obesity, Barrett’s oesophagus, diet, smoking, alcohol, chemicals and pollutants may increase your risk of developing oesophageal cancer.
In the early stages of oesophageal cancer, you may have no symptoms. As the cancer grows you may have weight loss, difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), chest pain, fatigue, frequent choking, indigestion, coughing, and hoarseness.
Your doctor can often detect oesophageal cancer by asking you several questions about the symptoms you are experiencing and performing a thorough physical examination. Certain tests may be ordered and could assist in determining the diagnosis and may include:
Oesophageal cancer may be treated with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery. Surgery to remove the portion of your oesophagus that contains the tumour and nearby lymph nodes is called oesophagectomy. The remaining section of the oesophagus is connected again to your stomach.