About Esophageal Cancer
Esophageal cancer forms in tissues lining the esophagus (the muscular tube through which food passes from the throat to the stomach). Two types of esophageal cancer are squamous cell carcinoma (cancer that begins in flat cells lining the esophagus) and adenocarcinoma (cancer that begins in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids).
Esophageal cancer is unique among the gastrointestinal tract malignancies because it embodies two distinct histopathologic types: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. Which type of cancer occurs in a given patient or predominates in a given geographic area depends on many variables, including individual lifestyle, socioeconomic pressures, and environmental factors.
To learn more about outreach and awareness for esophageal cancer, please visit www.ecaware.org.
Prevalence of Esophageal Cancer
In the United States, 16,980 new cases are estimated to be identified in 2011, and over 14,710 patients expected to die of the disease. Importantly, incidence rates among white men continue to increase and now exceed 8 per 100,000 person-years, reflecting the marked increase in the incidence of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus of more than 400% in the past two decades. The rise of esophageal adenocarcinoma (especially in this population) is of epidemic proportions.
Early esophageal cancer may not cause symptoms. As the cancer grows, the most common symptoms are:
- Food gets stuck in the esophagus, and food may come back up
- Pain when swallowing
- Pain in the chest or back
- Weight loss
- A hoarse voice or cough that doesn't go away within 2 weeks