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Esophageal Cancer

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  • Esophageal cancer is a disease in epidemiologic transition. Until the 1970s, the most common type of esophageal cancer in the United States was squamous cell carcinoma, which has smoking and alcohol consumption as risk factors; since then, there has been a progressive increase in the incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma, for which the most common predisposing factor is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The progression of Barrett metaplasia to adenocarcinoma is associated with several changes in gene structure, gene expression, and protein structure. Esophageal cancer usually begins in the cells that line the inside of the esophagus. Esophageal cancer can occur anywhere along the esophagus, but in people in the United States, it occurs most often in the lower portion of the esophagus. More men than women get esophageal cancer.
  • Signs and symptoms of esophageal cancer include: Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), weight loss without trying, chest pain, pressure or burning, worsening indigestion or heartburn, coughing or hoarseness etc. Treatment for esophageal cancer is based on the type of cells involved. Surgery to remove the cancer can be used alone or in combination with other treatments. Operations used to treat esophageal cancer include: Surgery to remove very small tumors, surgery to remove a portion of the esophagus, surgery to remove part of your esophagus and the upper portion of your stomach.
  • Esophageal cancer is the seventh most common cause of cancer death in males. Esophageal cancer is generally more common in men than in women. The male-to-female ratio is 3-4:1. It occurs most commonly during the sixth and seventh decades of life. The disease becomes more common with advancing age; it is about 20 times more common in persons older than 65 years than it is in individuals below that age.

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