Esophageal cancer is a serious condition that’s often not diagnosed early enough, because it presents few symptoms in the early stages. Meade Edmunds, MD, and his team at Edmunds Gastroenterology in Knoxville, Tennessee, have many years of experience in helping people who have esophageal cancer stay healthy for as long as possible. If you have any discomfort in your esophagus or difficulty swallowing, call Edmunds Gastroenterology today, or book an appointment online.
Esophageal cancer is a condition where cancer develops in any place along the length of the esophagus. It typically occurs in males over the age of 50. It’s a very serious cancer with a high morbidity and mortality.
Typically, there are two types: 1) adenocarcinoma, which is associated with acid reflux and Barrett’s esophagus, and 2) squamous cell carcinoma, which is associated with smoking and/or alcohol consumption.
Patients who have esophageal cancer often present with:
One of the main symptoms of esophageal cancer is dysphagia, which is difficulty swallowing. You may feel like food is getting stuck in your throat or chest rather than passing straight down into the stomach, and you may choke on your food more frequently.
Having dysphagia doesn’t mean you have esophageal cancer, as there are other, more common causes for swallowing difficulties. In cases of esophageal cancer, the dysphagia typically worsens over time, and patients adapt their eating habits to compensate, taking smaller mouthfuls of food, eating more carefully, and avoiding foods that tend to get stuck.
Diagnostic studies for esophageal cancer include a Barium swallow and upper endoscopy with biopsy.
Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS), MRI, CT scan and PET scan may be used in determining the stage of the disease once it’s been diagnosed.
Depending upon the extent of the cancer, different modalities are used regarding the treatment. If the cancer is localized to the esophagus, then surgery is the preferred method of treatment, particularly in adenocarcinoma.
If the cancer is outside of the esophagus, then chemotherapy and radiation are the preferred treatments. Palliative treatments with esophageal stents may be used in order to help the patient with difficulty swallowing, if no more definitive means of therapy can be considered.
If you’ve been experiencing problems with swallowing or other symptoms of esophageal cancer, call Edmunds Gastroenterology today, or book an appointment online.
This information is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Please consult with your primary care physician or a specialist regarding your symptoms.