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What is Esophageal Cancer And How To Treat It, Doctor Elucidates

Esophageal cancer is a serious health hazard that most do not know about. Read ahead to know what is it exactly and how to treat it.

Tanya Srivastava
Written by: Tanya SrivastavaPublished at: May 16, 2022Updated at: May 16, 2022
What is Esophageal Cancer And How To Treat It, Doctor Elucidates

Esophageal cancer occurs when cancer cells develop in the esophagus which is a tube-like structure that runs from the throat to the stomach. The food we eat goes from the mouth to the stomach through the esophagus. Cancer elevates from the inner layer of the esophagus and eventually spreads throughout the other layers of the esophagus and to other parts of the body as well.

There are two types of esophageal cancer; 

1. Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cells line the inner esophagus. The cancer that develops from squamous cells can occur along the entire esophagus. 

2. Adenocarcinoma

This cancer develops directly from gland cells. In order to develop adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, squamous cells that normally line the esophagus are replaced by these gland cells. This typically occurs in the lower esophagus near the stomach which is believed to be largely related to the exposure to acid in the lower esophagus.

OnlyMyHealth editorial team exclusively connected with Dr Amit Bhargava, Oncologist, Fortis Escorts Hospital elucidates more on the subject and tells that our food pipe which connects our mouth to the stomach is called as esophagus and the cancers developing in the food pipe are known as esophageal cancers.

Also Read: World Cancer Day 2021: Signs of Blood Cancer You Should Watch Out for

Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer

  • Difficulty or pain while swallowing food
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Pain in the chest and/or behind the breastbone
  • Coughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn

Treatment Of Esophageal Cancer 

Depending upon the type and extent of cancer various modalities like Radiotherapy, chemotherapy or Surgery are used to treat this cancer.  At times you may need combination of these modalities to treat locally advanced cancers wherein the cancer is down-staged (reduces) by using chemo or radiotherapy or both and then patient is taken up for surgery.

However, if it’s a very small Tumor surgery can be done upfront and then depending upon the type and biology of the cancer, radiation or chemo or both may be used to consolidate the treatment.

Also Read: National Cancer Awareness Day: Breast Cancer Symptoms Can Be Identified 5 Years Before It Actually Happens

Treatment of esophageal cancer depends largely on many factors such as the stage of the cancer and the overall health of the indivisual. A few ways it how it can be treated are:

  • Surgery, where the part or all of the esophagus may be removed.
  • Radiation therapy, which kills cancer cells with radiation.
  • Chemotherapy. which involves powerful drugs that attack cancer cells throughout the body. It is typically used in combination with the radiation therapy and/or surgery.
  • Targeted therapy, this is a relatively one of the newer treatments that targets specific aspects of a cancer to curb it's growth and spread.
  • Immunotherapy, it helps the immune system to attack cancer cells and fight better.
  • Photodynamic therapy, in which it targets cancer cells with a special laser light.
  • Electrocoagulation, this process uses electric current to destroy cancer cells.
  • Cryotherapy helps in freezing the cancer cells which in turn shrinks  the tumor.

 Alternative Medicines

Complementary and alternative therapies helps in coping with the side effects of cancer and its severe treatment. For example, people who suffer from  esophageal cancer usually experience pain which is  caused by cancer treatment or when the tumor starts to grow. However, most times the doctor works in controlling the pain of the patient by treating the cause or with medications. Still and well the pain may persist. Here are some alternative therapies that may help an individual to cope:

  • Acupuncture
  • Guided imagery
  • Massage
  • Relaxation techniques

Every individual is different from the other and hence fore, each treatment may have different affect on the concerned person. Cancer is a falat disease therefore, it is vital to connect with a trusted doctor and ask what options are safe for you.