What is esophageal cancer? What are the symptoms and treatment methods?

What is esophageal cancer? What are the symptoms and treatment methods?

They are malignant tumors that develop from the inner lining layer of the esophagus. The tumor, which develops from the inner layer of the organ, spreads up and down the esophagus and from the inside out. It can also spread to other areas of the body through the lymph and blood vessels.

What is the incidence of esophageal cancer?

Esophageal cancer  ranks 6th among all cancers worldwide. It constitutes 1.5-2 percent of all cancers and 5-7 percent of digestive system cancers. It is known that its incidence varies according to geographical regions. It is more common in our country, especially in the eastern regions. Esophageal cancer is common between the ages of 50 and 60, and is rare (0.2%) under the age of 30. It is about 3 times more common in men than in women. Esophageal cancer is located in the middle part of the esophagus in half of the patients, in the lower part in one-third, and in the upper part in the remainder. Treatment methods vary according to the place of residence.

What are the causes and risk factors of esophageal cancer?

  • Smoking, alcohol use and substance addictions,
  • Nutritional factors,
  • genetic and environmental factors,
  • It can be listed as other diseases that cause cancer.

Smoking, alcohol use and substance addictions

The most important causes of esophageal cancer in the USA and Western Europe are smoking and alcohol use. In other regions where esophageal cancer is common, nutritional factors are more prominent than smoking and alcohol. The effect of alcohol alone is very low, and the risk of esophageal cancer increases significantly depending on the dose and duration when combined with smoking.

Nutritional factors

The antioxidant effects of beta carotene, vitamins A, B, C, E, folic acid, riboflavin (a type of vitamin), trace minerals and metals magnesium, zinc, selenium, molybdenum, on cell regeneration and cell division are known. Insufficient intake of these substances poses a significant risk, especially as a result of a diet rich in wheat, corn and rice and poor in fresh fruits and vegetables. Smoking, alcohol, insufficient intake of fresh vegetables and fruits were accepted as the 3 most important risk factors for esophageal cancer . These 3 factors were found in 83 percent of patients with esophageal cancer.

Dietary habits, especially excessive and frequent intake of very hot drinks, are considered as significant risk factors. In our country, the habit of drinking very hot and large amounts of tea together with smoking in Eastern Anatolia and the difficulties in transporting fresh vegetables and fruits to this region due to climatic conditions can be considered as the reasons for the frequent occurrence of esophageal cancer .

What are the symptoms of esophageal cancer?

  • difficulty swallowing
  • weight loss
  • Burning and pain in the chest area
  • Vomiting, food coming back into the mouth
  • swelling in the neck
  • Anorexia
  • hoarseness
  • Bleeding
  • Cough and choking feeling

What are the diagnostic methods for esophageal cancer?

Endoscopic examination is the most important diagnostic tool in all patients with suspected esophageal cancer . The importance of esophagoscopy is great not only in making the diagnosis, but also in determining how the treatment will be done.

What are the treatment methods for esophageal cancer?

The choice of treatment in esophageal cancers depends on many factors, primarily the stage and location of the tumor. However, in cases caught early, the most effective treatment method is surgery. In some cases where surgical treatment or radiotherapy alone may not be sufficient, combined treatments may be considered. In advanced cases, surgical treatment can be performed only for the supply of nutrition of the patient.

The location of the tumor is also important in the selection of treatment. In general, tumors in the lower 1/3 of the esophagus are easily treated surgically. Tumors in the upper section have less chance of surgery. While early lesions are suitable for surgery, spread to surrounding tissues and metastases are reasons that require non-surgical methods to be sought. The size and depth of the lesion and the total size of the mass may guide the choice of treatment because tumors longer than 7–8 cm are more likely to spread to adjacent tissues. On the other hand, the duration of the symptoms is also important in terms of the stage of the disease.