Cancer Center

Esophageal Cancer

Digestive cancers
Definition

The esophagus is the tube that connects the neck and chest to the stomach. Esophageal cancer occurs when cancerous cells develop in the esophagus.

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Symptoms

More common in men than women, esophageal cancer tends to affect people older than 60. It may not yield any symptoms in its early stages. As the cancer develops, symptoms may include:

  • A persistent cough that may include blood being coughed up
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Painful swallowing
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Exhaustion

In addition to age and gender, other risk factors of esophageal cancer include:

  • Smoking or use of smokeless tobacco
  • Excessive use of alcohol
  • Gastric reflux disease

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Treatment

A doctor will perform a physical examination, review symptoms with the patient and perform testing for esophageal cancer that can include:

If testing indicates the presence of esophageal cancer, treatment may include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Surgery to remove the cancerous growth

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