: Cancer that begins in glandular
Glandular cells in the lining of the esophagus produce and release fluids
as mucus. Adenocarcinomas usually form in the lower part of the esophagus, near
Smoking, heavy alcohol use, and Barrett esophagus can increase the
risk of esophageal cancer.
Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn't mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk. Risk factors include the following:
: A condition
in which the cells lining
the lower part of the esophagus have changed or been replaced with abnormal
cells that could lead to cancer of the esophagus. Gastric reflux
up of stomach contents into the lower section of the esophagus) may irritate
the esophagus and, over time, cause Barrett esophagus.
Tests that examine the esophagus are used to detect (find) and
diagnose esophageal cancer.
The following tests and procedures may be used:
and history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient’s health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
Chest x-ray: An x-ray
of the organs
and bones inside the chest. An x-ray is a type of energy beam that can go through the body and onto film, making a picture of areas inside the body.
Barium swallow: A series of x-rays of the esophagus and stomach. The patient drinks a liquid that contains barium
(a silver-white metalliccompound). The liquid coats the esophagus and stomach, and x-rays are taken. This procedure is also called an upper GI series.
Esophagoscopy: A procedure to look inside the esophagus to check for abnormal areas. An esophagoscope is inserted through the mouth or nose and down the throat into the esophagus. An esophagoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens
for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue samples, which are checked under a microscope
for signs of cancer. When the esophagus and stomach are looked at, it is called an upper endoscopy.
Biopsy: The removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope by a pathologist
to check for signs of cancer. The biopsy is usually done during an esophagoscopy.
Sometimes a biopsy shows changes in the esophagus that are not cancer but may
lead to cancer.
Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.
of the cancer (whether it affects part of the esophagus, involves the
whole esophagus, or has spread to other places in the body).
Whether the tumor can be completely removed by surgery.
The patient’s general health.
When esophageal cancer is found very early, there is a better
chance of recovery. Esophageal cancer is often in an advanced stage when it is diagnosed. At later stages, esophageal cancer can be treated but rarely can be cured. Taking part in one of the clinical trials
being done to improve treatment should be considered. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the