Esophageal Cancer: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Esophageal Cancer: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment | HealthSoul

Your esophagus has many layers that cancer can hide out in before symptoms present themselves. Typically, when esophageal cancer is just starting out, it begins in the deepest layers of the esophagus and spreads outward along the esophagus. Although it’s not an incredibly common type of cancer, it tends to affect many more men than women and more African-Americans than Caucasians.

Esophageal Cancer Causes

The root cause of esophageal cancer is not yet known, although there are certain risk factors that may increase your likelihood of developing the condition. Some of these factors include the following:

  • Age
  • Alcohol Consumption
  • Smoking Status
  • Use of Chewing Tobacco
  • Poor Nutrition and Diet
  • Frequent Consumption of Hot Liquids
  • Exposure to Toxins, Including Solvents
  • HPV
  • Obesity

Esophageal Cancer Causes

Esophageal Cancer Symptoms

As with other types of cancer, symptoms associated with esophageal cancer don’t usually begin appearing until later stages. When they do begin showing up, they may include the following:

  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Painful Swallowing
  • Ongoing Heartburn
  • Unexplained Weight Loss
  • Fatigue
  • Chest Pain
  • Coughing 

One of the most common of these symptoms is difficulty swallowing. As the tumor grows, swallowing will become increasingly difficult to the point where eating solid foods may be out of the question. Because of this, weight loss is also a common symptom. It makes sense. As it becomes more difficult to consume food, your calorie intake decreases, resulting in weight loss.

Esophageal Cancer Symptoms

Esophageal Cancer Diagnosis

If you’re concerned about any of your symptoms, consult with a doctor for a proper diagnosis. After reviewing your symptoms and medical history, he or she will perform a physical exam and a variety of tests to determine if you really have esophageal cancer. Some of these tests may include:

If the tests reveal the presence of cancer, your doctor will attempt to determine how far your cancer has progressed. To determine this, he or she could do the following tests or procedures:

  • Chest X-Ray
  • Blood Tests
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Imaging Scans
  • Endoscopic Ultrasound
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scans

Esophageal Cancer Diagnosis

Esophageal Cancer Treatment

After the diagnosis, your doctor will put together a treatment plan to best combat whatever stage your cancer is in. Typically, treatment plans include a combination of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. Surgery is the most common form of treatment for esophageal cancer because it targets the tumor and tries to remove it. It’s a demanding procedure, though. So, before undergoing the surgery, your doctor will ensure you’re healthy enough to endure it.

Esophageal Cancer Prognosis

As is typical with cancer, the earlier it’s caught, the better your chances and prognosis. There are steps you can take to decrease your chances of developing esophageal cancer, though, including making simple lifestyle changes. Simple changes like eating a balanced diet, exercising, and getting regular checkups can prevent not only the progression of esophageal cancer but other cancers, as well.