By Dr. Sanjeev Kulkarni, Oncology,
Esophageal cancer affects the oesophagus which is the long tube connecting the throat to the stomach. The main function of the oesophagus is to transport food from the throat and into the stomach sac. Esophageal cancer can affect any region within the oesophagus, but such a cancer is seen more commonly in men than in women. Esophageal cancer is the sixth most common cause of death when it comes to cancer.
There are 7 types of esophageal cancer, out of which two are very common while the others are rare. Here is a look at the types.
Adenocarcinoma: Adenocarcinoma is a kind of cancer that affects the gland inside one of the organs. Apart from the oesophagus, the breasts, colon, prostrate, lung and pancreas can also be affected by this type of cancer. Adenocarcinoma is caused when the cells of the gland start to grow out of control. In case of such a cancer in the oesophagus, the mucus glands are affected. The cancer is diagnosed through blood tests or through a biopsy. In case of a biopsy, the doctor may take a sample of skin or tissue from the infected region and run tests on it in the lab. Treatment is done with the help of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Squamous cell carcinoma: Such a cancer in the oesophagus is more common for people engaging in excessive alcohol ingestion and smoking. Additionally, people consuming excessively hot drinks on a regular basis can also increase the risk of suffering from the condition. Doctors have discovered that a person suffering from physical trauma may also have higher chances of the disease. Treatment involves a mixture of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery.
Rare forms of esophageal cancer–
Other forms of throat cancer include rare conditions such as small cell carcinoma, lymphoma, sarcoma, melanoma and choriocarcinoma. These are very uncommon and only affect a small percentage of people with oesophageal cancer. Treatment may be difficult in these cases and surgery and chemotherapy may not be enough to control the growth of the cancerous tumours.
The best form of treatment however is the prevention of the disease. Quit smoking and drinking alcohol to substantially reduce the chances of the cancer. Furthermore, consuming fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis will also help limit the chances of cancer.