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What is esophageal cancer?
Esophageal cancer is a type of cancer that affects the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. The accumulation of these extra cells forms a mass of tissue called a tumor. According to the type of cells that are involved, esophageal cancers are classified as:
- Adenocarcinoma of the esophagus: This is the most common type of esophageal cancer which develops from the cells of mucus-secreting glands in the esophagus.
- Squamous cell carcinoma: This is a type of cancer that develops from cells that are on the inside lining of the esophagus.
The experts best equipped to help treat esophageal cancer are the expert gastroenterologists at GI Alliance. Contact your local GI Alliance to find a GI specialist who can treat your condition.
What are the symptoms and causes of esophageal cancer?
The exact cause of esophageal cancer is not known, however, certain factors such as advancing age, gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), obesity, Barrett’s esophagus, diet, smoking, alcohol, chemicals, and pollutants may increase your risk of developing esophageal cancer.
In the early stages of esophageal cancer, you may have no symptoms. As the cancer grows you may experience weight loss, difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), chest pain, fatigue, frequent choking, indigestion, coughing, and hoarseness.
How is esophageal cancer diagnosed and treated?
Your doctor can often detect esophageal cancer by asking you several questions about the symptoms you are experiencing. Your doctor can also often detect this cancer by performing a thorough physical examination. Certain tests may be ordered and could assist in determining the diagnosis. These tests may include:
- Barium X-rays: These are diagnostic X-rays in which barium is used to diagnose tumors or other abnormal areas. You are asked to drink a liquid that contains barium while X-rays are taken. The barium coats the walls of the esophagus and stomach and makes the abnormalities more clearly visible.
- Endoscopy: An endoscopy is a procedure in which a long, thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera is used to examine the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum.
- Biopsy: A small sample of tissue is removed and examined under the microscope to look for abnormal cells.
Esophageal cancer may be treated with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery. Surgery to remove the portion of your esophagus that contains the tumor and nearby lymph nodes is called esophagectomy. The remaining section of the esophagus is connected again to your stomach. If you are looking for treatment for esophageal cancer, you can partner with an expert gastroenterologist through GI Alliance.
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The experts in GI tract cancers
If you have, or are at risk for, esophageal cancer, you can be diagnosed and treated by a board-certified gastroenterologist. The best way to find an expert gastroenterologist near you is to contact the nation's leading physician-led network of GI specialists, GI Alliance. The skilled doctors at GI Alliance treat all types of cancers of the GI tract, including esophageal cancer. Partner with a GI doctor to manage your health today by contacting GI Alliance.
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