Esophageal cancer can occur anywhere in the esophagus, usually beginning in the cells that line the inner walls of the esophagus. The esophagus is part of the digestive system. It is a long, hollow tube that helps to move food from the throat to your stomach.
Esophageal cancer is more common in men and older persons, and in Singapore it is the 10th most common cause of cancer death among men.
Types of esophageal cancer
Squamous cell carcinoma
This begins in the squamous cells which line the esophagus. It usually develops in the upper or middle part of the esophagus but it can develop anywhere along the esophagus.
This begins in the mucous-producing glands that line the esophagus. It usually starts in the lower part of the esophagus (distal esophageal cancer), closer to the stomach.
What are the symptoms of esophageal cancer?
In its early stages, esophageal cancer usually does not produce any symptoms.
At its later stages, symptoms of esophageal cancer include:
Progressive difficulty in solids followed by liquids
Indigestion or heartburn that gets worse
Pain, pressure or burning sensation in the chest
Regurgitating food and saliva
Unexplained or unintended weight loss
What causes esophageal cancer?
It is unclear what causes the cellular changes that lead to esophageal cancer. However, there are risk factors that appear to increase a person’s risk of developing it.
What are the risk factors for esophageal cancer?
Some conditions may increase your risk for developing esophageal cancer: