Tumour Stomach Cancer / Tumour

The oesophagus is part of the gastrointestinal tract through which food goes down into the stomach. Oesophageal cancer is a cancer occurring in the oesophagus. There are two main types of oesophageal cancer; adenocarcinoma of the oesophagus, and squamous cell carcinoma of the oesophagus.

Adenocarcinoma of the oesophagus: This type of oesophageal cancer develops from cells within mucous glands. It mainly occurs in the lower third of the oesophagus.

Squamous cell carcinoma of the oesophagus develops from cells within the lining of the oesophagus. It usually affects the upper two thirds of the oesophagus.

Oesophageal Cancer Causes

The main causes of oesophageal cancer are still not clear, but there are several risk factors that are considered to increase chances of oesophageal cancer. These include:

  • Gender and Ageing – oesophageal cancer is most common in people over the age of 55, and even more prevalent in males.
  • Diet- A high-fat diet may increase the risk of oesophageal cancer. Eating a lot of fruit and green vegetables could lower the risk significantly.
  • Geography – Oesophageal cancer is more common in Asian nations than Western nations. This may be due to dietary factors, or some other environmental factor.
  • Smoking.
  • Drinking a lot of alcohol, especially spirits.
  • Long-standing acid reflux from the stomach
  • Barrett’s oesophagus. This is a condition at the lower end of the oesophagus where the cells which line the oesophagus have become affected due to excessive acid reflux.
  • Long-term exposure to certain chemicals and pollutants (chemical carcinogens) may irritate the oesophagus if you breathe them in and may increase the risk.

Symptoms of Oesophageal Cancer

Difficulty in swallowing is one of the main symptoms of oesophageal cancer. Other symptoms includes:

  • weight loss
  • food coming back up before reaching the stomach
  • vomiting
  • pain when swallowing
  • indigestion or heartburn that doesn’t go away
  • a cough
  • a hoarse voice
  • dull pain or discomfort in the back.

Oesophageal Cancer Diagnosis

Diagnosis of oesophageal cancer may happen in stages.

In the initial stage, the doctor will ask about your symptoms, then they may perform a physical examination to check for signs such as a lump in your stomach. During the examination, a thin, flexible telescope is passed through the mouth, into the oesophagus and down towards the stomach to allow the doctor to see inside.

The next stage may be a biopsy, where the doctor will take samples and study them further to confirm the diagnosis. It can take two weeks for the result of a biopsy to come back.

If oesophageal cancer is confirmed, more tests may be carried out. You may go through a special ultrasound scan, which uses a probe at the end of a gastroscope to assess how far the cancer has spread through the wall of the oesophagus. The doctor may also scan to find out if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Oesophageal Cancer Treatment

There are several treatment options a doctor might advise depending on the diagnosis. This includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The doctor will advise treatment based on certain factors such as:

  • The location of the cancer in the oesophagus.
  • The size of the tumour
  • Whether the cancer has spread
  • Your general health.