April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month
Esophageal (Esophagus) Cancer- Healthy cells that change and grow uncontrollably in the cells that line the esophagus that form a tumor. Esophageal cancer begins in the inner layers of the esophageal wall and grows outward. If it spreads through the wall it can travel to lymph nodes and can also spread to the lungs, liver, stomach and other parts of the body.
Types of Esophageal Cancer:
Squamous Cell Carcinoma- starts in squamous cells that line the esophagus. Usually develops in the upper and middle parts of the esophagus.
Adenocarcinoma- Begins in the glandular tissue in the lower part of the esophagus where the stomach and esophagus come together.
Signs & Symptoms
- Difficulty and pain with swallowing when eating meat, bread and raw vegetables. As the tumor grows it may block the pathway to the stomach making swallowing liquid painful as well.
- Pressure and burning in the chest
- Indigestion or heartburn
- Frequent choking on food
- Unexplained weight loss
- Coughing or hoarseness
- Pain behind the breast bone or in throat
Prevention: Not all esophageal cancers can be prevented but there are some factors that may lower the risk.
- Avoiding tobacco and alcohol
- Watching diet and body weight
- Getting treatment for reflux or Barrett’s esophagus
Also if you haven’t already, please read these previous posts!