Frequently asked questions on esophageal cancer

1. What is the esophagus?

Ans: The oesophagus,also known as the food pipe, is a muscular tube that serves as a conduit for moving food and drink from the mouth to the stomach.

2. What are the different types of esophageal cancer?

Ans : Cancer of the esophagus typically occur in one of two forms, squamous cell carcinomas arising from the stratified squamous epithelial lining of the organ, and adenocarcinomas affecting columnar glandular cells that replace the squamous epithelium

3. What are the risk factors for esophageal cancer?

Ans: • Gender: The incidence of esophageal carcinoma is generally higher in men than women in most countries.
• Tobacco: Smoking is one of the major risk factor for developing esophageal squamous carcinoma. Smokers have a 5-fold risk of developing this disease compared to non-smokers
The “chewing of areca nut” (often mixed with tobacco), is common in Southeast Asia and has been linked to the development of esophageal cancer.
• Alcohol: Excessive alcohol intake is a risk factor for squamous carcinoma.
• Gastroesophageal reflux disease and Barrett’s esophagus
• Obesity

4. What are the symptoms of esophageal cancer?

Ans : • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
• Unexplained weight loss
• Worsening indigestion or heartburn
• Chest pain, pressure or burning
• Coughing or hoarseness of voice
Early esophageal cancer typically causes no signs or symptoms.

5. How is esophageal cancer diagnosed?
Ans: • Endoscopy is the gold standard for the diagnosis of pre-cancerous squamous lesions.
• During endoscopy, a flexible tube equipped with a video lens (videoendoscope) is pushed down the throat into the esophagus. Using the endoscope, the doctor examines the esophagus, looking for suspicious areas.

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