What is it?
Esophageal cancer is cancer that affects the esophagus or food pipe that connects your mouth to your stomach. Unfortunately, it is one of the few cancers that is increasing in frequency and can carry a poor prognosis. Therefore, screening people with heartburn or reflux can help us find precursors to esophageal cancer, such as Barrett’s esophagus, to help prevent cancer from forming.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of esophageal cancer can vary, but the common symptoms are:
- Trouble swallowing or painful swallowing
- Weight loss
- Vomiting of blood or dark-colored stool (blood that has been digested)
- Chest pain or heartburn that does not improve with medication
How is it diagnosed?
Esophageal cancer is usually diagnosed with an EGD or upper endoscopy, where a flexible camera is used to evaluate the tumor and obtain biopsies for diagnosis. Once diagnosed, imaging studies help in the staging of the cancer to determine the best next steps in treatment.
How is it treated?
Treating esophageal cancer includes the collaborative efforts of a team of doctors and nurses to come up with options for patients. Your health care team can help you choose the best treatment plan that works for you. These treatments may include endoscopic ablative therapies, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, and esophageal stents.