Advertisement

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of oesophageal cancer

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of oesophageal cancer

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of oesophageal cancer

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of oesophageal cancer

Oesophageal cancer (abnormal growth of cells) refers to the malignancy of the oesophagus, also called the food pipe. Oesophagus is a muscular tube-like structure of gastrointestinal tract which connects the mouth to the stomach. Oesophageal cancer arises from the cells lining the oesophagus. If the cancer arises from upper and middle part of oesophagus, then it is termed as squamous cell cancer whereas cancer arising from the lower part of the oesophagus is called adenocarcinoma.

Submit a request for further information, a quotation or indicative cost. Your enquiry will be forwarded to up to 3 private healthcare providers. They will respond directly with further information.

Get a quote for oesophageal cancer treatment >

Incidence, age and sex

Oesophageal cancer is a rarely encountered gastrointestinal cancer. Individuals of more than 50 years of age are more susceptible, though it can occur in any age group. It is more common in men than women. Upper or middle part of the oesophagus (squamous cell cancer) is frequently involved than lower part (adenocarcinoma).

Signs and symptoms

The clinical features of oesophageal cancer include difficulty in swallowing food which may gradually progress to painful swallowing of both solids and liquids. Some individuals may also experience backflow of food from the food pipe into the mouth. Chest pain or vomiting of blood is usually seen late in the course of cancer. Other concurrent clinical symptoms include fever, loss of appetite and weight loss.

Such features need to be evaluated comprehensively by a gastroenterologist who may conduct investigations like endoscopy which helps in direct visualization of the interior of the food pipe. A small specimen of tumour tissue can also be taken during endoscopy to study under microscope and confirm the diagnosis. MRI scan of the chest may be required to assess the extent and spread of oesophageal cancer.

Causes and prevention

The exact cause of oesophageal cancer is not very clear. However, several risk factors may pose a risk for cancer occurrence. For example repeated reflux of gastric acid juice into oesophagus may damage the wall of lower end of oesophagus. This results in structural damage to the cells and is termed as ‘Barrett’s Oesophagus’. Other risk factors include positive family history, drinking hot liquids, smoking and alcohol.

Complications

Oesophageal cancer may spread to the adjacent tissues and also distant sites like the lymph nodes and lungs through the bloodstream and lymphatic route. The spread of cancer is a sign of poor prognosis. Moreover in certain cases, the regurgitated food can be aspirated into lungs, resulting in pneumonia, which is a serious infection of the lungs.

Submit a request for further information, a quotation or indicative cost. Your enquiry will be forwarded to up to 3 private healthcare providers. They will respond directly with further information.

Get a quote for oesophageal cancer treatment >

Advertisement

Features

Latest news

Val Cornwall was diagnosed with osteoarthritis

Andrew Goldberg was featured on Radio 4's 'Inside Health' in 2014.

30,000 people are diagnosed with ankle arthritis annually

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of oesophageal cancer

Find a ...

Advertisement