Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer is cancer that forms in the cells lining the esophagus. There are two types of esophageal cancer—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). According to the National Cancer Institute, there were 16,640 new cases of esophageal cancer in the United States in 2010.


Symptoms of esophageal cancer include:

  • Anemia
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Weight loss

Risk Factors

Risk factors for developing esophageal cancer vary and may include the following:

  • Age: 65 or older
  • Gender: male
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Chronic acid reflux and related Barrett’s esophagus

When to See a Doctor

If you have any concerns about your symptoms or if symptoms persist, it’s time to see a doctor. Screening for esophageal cancer is not routine and requires the expertise of a physician who has been trained to evaluate and diagnose conditions affecting the esophagus.

Treatment Options

Treatment options for individuals with esophageal cancer vary and may include the following:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Any combination of the above treatments

Diagnostic Testing

The foremost diagnostic test for any condition is a thorough exam and consultation with a physician, including a review of your individual and family history. In addition, your physician may recommend any of the following tests or procedures, which may provide further diagnostic value:

Learn More

Learn more about esophageal cancer with the following resources:

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