The esophagus is a structure with a tube like an appearance that runs from the throat to the stomach. It acts as a passage for food as it moves from your mouth all the way to the stomach. Esophageal cancer starts from the inner layers of this structure and spreads to the other layers, including other body parts when it metastasis.

Esophageal cancer: main types

Generally speaking, esophageal cancer is of two main types with the first one being squamous cell carcinoma. In this case, the cancer actually develops from squamous cells, which line the inner parts of esophagus and the cancer can affect the entire esophagus. The next type is the adenocarcinoma, which actually develops from the gland cells. In most cases, this type of cancer usually affects lower parts of esophagus just near the stomach. Scientists say that this type of cancer of esophagus results from the lower esophagus being exposed to acid.

Esophageal cancer: common symptoms

The early stages of esophageal cancer might not have any symptoms, but they start becoming more visible as the cancer continues to advance. Symptoms include pain or difficulty when swallowing, chest pain, especially behind the breastbone, weight loss, hoarseness, coughing, heartburn and indigestion.

Esophageal cancer: risk factors

Different factors can increase the risk of a person suffering from esophageal cancer. The first one is gastroesophageal reflux disease whereby stomach acids and contents collect in the esophagus which increases the risk of the cells becoming cancerous. In fact, scientists estimate that nearly 30 percent of esophageal cancer cases diagnosed are associated with GERD. Using tobacco and smoking cigarettes as well as heavy usage of alcohol can also increase the risk of getting the disease. Another condition is the Barrett’s esophagus which mostly affects the lower parts and could also be as a result of GERD. Stomach acid over time can as well alter the cells and increase the risk as well. Certain groups of people, particularly African Americans, men and the elderly are highly likely to be patients of esophageal cancer.

Esophageal cancer: diagnosis and treatment

Diagnosing of esophageal cancer involves reviewing the symptoms, examining the person and considering the medical history of the patient. The doctor can also order that the patient undertakes some X-rays and blood tests. Common tests recommended by the doctor include Barium swallow x-ray, endoscopy and biopsy. Other tests which the doctor can recommend include position emission tomography scan, computed tomography scans, laparaoscopy and thoracoscopy, which determine if the cancer has metastasized or not. Treatment of esophageal cancer depends on the stage or how advanced the cancer is. Depending on the findings of the doctor, he will recommend a certain treatment method. Surgical operation is the main treatment option for this cancer and it also helps a lot in determining the spread of esophageal cancer to nearby organs.

Cancer, especially if it is at the advanced stages may cause many complications. This will mostly happen due to the administration of heavy drugs. They may even cause heart complications in which case AED certification would come in handy for the caregivers.

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