Christie Clinic - Medicine for Your Life

Our website is currently having technical difficulties. To view the site, please click here

Health Encyclopedia

Health Encyclopedia

An invaluable resource of health information.

Esophageal cancer

Esophageal cancer is a cancerous (malignant) tumor of the esophagus, the muscular tube that moves food from the mouth to the stomach.

See also: Barrett's esophagus

  • Alternative Names

    Cancer - esophagus

  • Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Esophageal cancer is relatively uncommon in the United States. It occurs most often in men over 50 years old. Two main types of esophageal cancer exist: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. These two types look different from each other under the microscope.

    Squamous cell esophageal cancer is associated with smoking and alcohol consumption.

    Barrett's esophagus, a complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), significantly increases the risk for adenocarcinoma of the esophagus. Other risk factors for adenocarcinoma of the esophagus include:

    • Alcohol use
    • Male gender
    • Obesity
    • Poor nutrition
    • Smoking
  • Symptoms
  • Signs and tests

    Tests used to help diagnose esophageal cancer may include:

    Stool testing may show small amounts of (occult) blood in the stool.

  • Treatment

    When esophageal cancer is only in the esophagus and has not spread, surgery is the treatment of choice. The goal of surgery is to remove the cancer.

    See:

    Sometimes chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of the two may be used instead of surgery, or to make surgery easier to perform.

    If the patient cannot tolerate surgery or the cancer has spread to other organs, chemotherapy or radiation may be used to help reduce symptoms. This is called palliative therapy. In such cases, the disease is usually not curable.

    Other treatments that may be used to improve a patient's ability to swallow include endoscopic dilation of the esophagus (sometimes with placement of a stent to keep the esophagus dilated), or photodynamic therapy. In photodynamic therapy, a special drug is injected into the tumor, which is then exposed to light. The light activates the medicine that attacks the tumor.

  • Support Groups

    Patients can often ease the stress of illness by joining a support group of people who share common experiences and problems. See cancer - support group.

  • Expectations (prognosis)

    Esophageal cancer is a very difficult disease to cure. When the cancer has not spread outside the esophagus, surgery may improve chances of survival.

    Radiation therapy is used instead of surgery in some cases where the cancer has not spread outside the esophagus.

    For patients whose cancer has spread, cure is generally not possible and treatment is directed toward relieving symptoms.

  • Complications
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Pneumonia
    • Severe weight loss resulting from not eating enough
    • Spread of the tumor to other areas of the body
  • Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if you have difficulty swallowing with no known cause and it does not get better, or if you have other symptoms of esophageal cancer.

  • Prevention

    The following may help reduce your risk of squamous cell cancer of the esophagus:

    • Avoid smoking
    • Limit or eliminate alcoholic drinks

    People with symptoms of severe gastroesophageal reflux should seek medical attention.

    Screening with EGD and biopsy in people with Barrett's esophagus may lead to early detection and improved survival. People who are diagnosed with Barrett's esophagus should be checked regularly for esophageal cancer.

  • References

    Orlando RC. Diseases of the esophagus. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 140.

    National Cancer Institute. Esophageal Cancer Treatment PDQ. Updated July 2, 2009.

    Esophageal Cancer. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology. National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc. 2009. Accessed October 17, 2009.

Review Date: 10/20/2009

Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic at the Family Medical Center in Paris Photo Christie Clinic at the Family Medical Center in Paris
727 East Court Street Paris, IL 61944 Dermatology: 366-1248; Vein and Vascular: 366-2670
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic on University Photo Christie Clinic on University
101 West University Avenue Champaign, IL 61820 Main Phone: (217) 366-1200
Billing Services: (217) 366-1382
Toll Free: (888) 391-0412
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic on Windsor/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic on Windsor/Convenient Care
1801 West Windsor Road Champaign, IL 61822 (217) 366-8000
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic at Presence Covenant Photo Christie Clinic at Presence Covenant
1400 West Park Street Urbana, IL 61801 (217) 366-1200
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Rantoul Photo Christie Clinic in Rantoul
209 West Borman Drive Rantoul, IL 61866 (217) 892-9671
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Mahomet/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic in Mahomet/Convenient Care
1001 Commercial Drive Mahomet, IL 61853 Main Number: (217) 586-6600 Convenient Care: (217)366-8130
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Tuscola Photo Christie Clinic in Tuscola
300 North Main Street Tuscola, IL 61953 (217) 253-9258
Christie Clinic CU Sleep Photo CU Sleep
1207 South Mattis Avenue Champaign, IL 61821 (217) 355-1684
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic Cancer Center Photo Christie Clinic Cancer Center
109 West University Avenue Champaign, IL 61820 (217) 366-5180
Christie Clinic Convenient Care in County Market (Kirby & Duncan) Photo Convenient Care in County Market (Kirby & Duncan)
2901 West Kirby Avenue Champaign, IL 61821 (217) 366-8130
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Urbana/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic in Urbana/Convenient Care
1710 East Windsor Road Urbana, IL 61802 (217) 344-9440
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Danville on Logan Photo Christie Clinic in Danville on Logan
800 North Logan Avenue Danville, IL 61832 (217) 431-8930
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic on Fox Drive Photo Christie Clinic on Fox Drive
2110 Fox Drive, Suite B Champaign, IL 61820
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Monticello at Kirby Medical Group Specialty Clinic Photo Christie Clinic in Monticello at Kirby Medical Group Specialty Clinic
1109 B North State Street Monticello, IL 61856 (217) 366-1304
Gibson Area Hospital
1120 N Melvin Gibson City, IL 60936 (217) 784-2240
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Mattoon Photo Christie Clinic in Mattoon
105 B Professional Plaza Mattoon, IL 61938 (217) 345-3000
Christie Clinic Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System Photo Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System
1000 Health Center Drive Mattoon, IL 61938 (217) 258-2588
Christie Clinic The Champaign SurgiCenter Photo The Champaign SurgiCenter
1702 S. Mattis Avenue Champaign, IL 61821 (217) 326-2030
Christie Clinic The Carle Foundation Hospital Photo The Carle Foundation Hospital
611 West Park Street Urbana, IL 61801 (217) 383-3311
Iroquois Memorial Hospital
200 E. Fairman Ave. Watseka, IL 60970 (815) 432-5841
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Savoy Photo Christie Clinic in Savoy
501 North Dunlap Avenue Savoy, IL 61874 Transformations: (217) 366-7460 Internal Medicine: (217) 366-5434 Ophthalmology: (217) 366-1250
Christie Clinic on West Park Street
1405 West Park Street Urbana, IL 61801 217-366-1237
Christie Clinic in Monticello
107 West Main Street Monticello, IL 61856 217.762.3352
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Decatur Photo Christie Clinic in Decatur
100 South Water Street Suite 103 Decatur, IL 62523 217-362-0661- telephone
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Danville on Vermilion/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic in Danville on Vermilion/Convenient Care
3545 North Vermilion Street Danville, IL 61832 (217) 442-8611