Esophageal Cancer

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Definition

The esophagus is the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. Esophageal cancer is the growth of cancer cells in this tube.There are 2 main types of esophageal cancer:
  • Squamous cell cancer—from the cells that line the upper part of the esophagus
  • Adenocarcinoma—from the cells where the esophagus meets the stomach
Esophageal Cancer
Esophageal cancer
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Causes

Cancer occurs when cells in the body divide without control or order. Eventually these uncontrolled cells form a growth or tumor. The term cancer refers to malignant growths. These growths invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body. It is not clear exactly what causes these problems in the cells, but is probably a combination of genetics and environment.

Risk Factors

Esophageal cancer is more common in men, and in people aged 50 years and older. Other factors that may increase your chance of esophageal cancer include:
  • Smoking, or smokeless tobacco use, such as chewing tobacco or snuff
  • Excess alcohol use—risk is compounded with combined alcohol and tobacco use
  • History of gastroesophageal reflux, especially if this has caused Barrett esophagus
  • Achalasia—chronic dilation of the esophagus
  • Radiation therapy
  • Obesity
  • Damaged esophagus from toxic substances, such as lye
  • History of head and/or neck cancer
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) infection
  • Certain rare genetic conditions, such as Plummer Vinson syndrome and tylosis

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