The esophagus is a hollow, muscular tube that pushes food and liquid from the throat to the stomach. The wall of the esophagus is made up of several layers of tissue.
Esophageal cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissue of the esophagus. Esophageal cancer starts at the inside lining of the esophagus and spreads outward through the other layers as it advances and grows.
There are two types of esophageal cancer:
o Squamous cell carcinoma: typically found in the upper to mid section of the esophagus.
o Adenocarcinoma: found in the lower part of the esophagus near the stomach.
What Are The Risk Factors Associated With Esophageal Cancer?
While there are no known underlying causes of esophageal cancer, there are certain risk factors which can increase the chances of developing esophageal cancer.
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) (chronic heartburn, indigestion)
- Poor diet and nutrition
- Tobacco use
- Alcohol use
Awareness & Early Detection
Having one or all of these risk factors does not mean that one will develop esophageal cancer. Also, not having any risk factors does not mean that one will never develop esophageal cancer. Raising awareness of risk factors associated with esophageal cancer is one way to help reduce the incidence of an esophageal cancer diagnosis. People who are considered to be at an elevated risk should speak with their doctor immediately about getting screened as early as possible. Experts agree that early detection can improve the chances of survival if cancer is found in the esophagus. There are also more treatment options available for early esophageal cancer and better outcomes.
Age & Gender
Age and gender also play a role in esophageal cancer. Studies have shown that men over the age of 55 do have a higher risk of developing esophageal cancer.
While it is true that older men have a higher risk of developing esophageal cancer, esophageal cancer is increasing rapidly and has increased over 600% in the past decades.
Therefore, esophageal cancer diagnoses are increasingly affecting all ages, genders and ethnicities.
Esophageal Cancer: The Fastest Rising Cancer In The United States.
In fact, esophageal cancer is increasing at such a rate that Gastroenterologists have projected that “within 10 years, esophageal cancer is going to exceed colon cancer as the second most common cancer in this country,” Dr. Jonathan Aviv, “The Changing Face of Esophageal Cancer.”
Incidence (diagnosis) or esophageal cancer (adenocarinoma) has increaed over 600% in the United States in the past decades (between 1975 and 2001).
Family Medical History & Your Risk
As with many other factors concerning esophageal cancer research, there isn’t a good deal of research into a genetic or hereditary link to esophageal cancer.
An article written by Ryan Smith and Eric Shinohara of The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania stated: “there is not a clear link between a family medical history of esophageal cancer and an individual’s risk of developing esophageal cancer.”
However, researchers do know one way that your family’s medical history can increase your risk of developing esophageal cancer: familial risk factors. Learn how “familial” risk factors plays a role in esophageal cancer.
When Esophageal Cancer Shows No Risk
It is important to note that having one or all risk factors associated with esophageal cancer does not mean that a person will develop cancer of the esophagus.
The same is also true for those who do not have any of the risk factors yet still go on to develop esophageal cancer. It is crucial to fund research which determines why people develop esophageal cancer when they have never had any risk.
Make A Difference
While the information here is intended to raise awareness of known risks associated with esophageal cancer, cancer is caused by a combination of factors and it is important to talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk.
Help us make an even bigger impact by sharing this page on all of your social media pages using the sharing links below. Please, take a moment to “like” us on Facebook and ask your friends and family members to do the same. The more people know about the risks associated with esophageal cancer, the more chances we have of saving lives! Thank you!