An Overview of Esophageal Cancer
Your esophagus is the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach, allowing food and liquids to pass through. Esophageal cancer can occur in 2 places: the lining of the esophagus, or at the bottom, where the esophagus meets your stomach.
Fortunately, there are several methods to diagnose and treat esophageal cancer.
What are the risk factors?
- Age and gender. According to the American Cancer Society, esophageal cancer is more common in men over age 55.
- Smoking and tobacco use
- Alcohol use
- Heartburn or GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease). Persistent reflux over a long period of time can lead to a condition called Barrett esophagus, which, if left untreated, can increase your cancer risk.
What are the warning signs?
The most common indications are persistent heartburn and difficulty swallowing. If you experience either or both of these symptoms, see your doctor right away.
How is the cancer detected?
The most common method for detecting esophageal cancer is endoscopy. For this procedure, your doctor inserts a narrow, viewing device called an endoscope into your esophagus through your mouth. This allows your doctor to observe any abnormalities. You’ll be under a mild sedation, so you won’t feel a thing.
How is the cancer treated?
If you’re diagnosed with esophageal cancer, know that several effective treatment options are available, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
Together, you and your doctor should discuss your treatment options and determine the best plan of action for you. For more information on treating esophageal cancer, see our treatment methods section.
For more information on treatment options or any information regarding Caner Institute at Saint Agnes Hospital please contact us at 410-368-2910.
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