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What Is Oesophageal Cancer? Know Its Risk Factors & Prevention From Expert

Smoking, alcohol, obesity, and GERD are some risk factors – which can be avoided – can lead to the development of oesophageal cancer.

Varun Verma
Written by: Varun VermaUpdated at: Feb 08, 2023 09:30 IST
What Is Oesophageal Cancer? Know Its Risk Factors & Prevention From Expert

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More than 200 types of cancer affect different body parts, one of which is cancer of the oesophagus. There are several risk factors that lead to the development of cancer in the food pipe, like smoking and alcohol. Cancer can be life-threatening, but medical science advancements have made its early detection possible. If diagnosed in the early stage, cancer can be treated, increasing life expectancy. The same is the case with oesophageal cancer. OnlyMyHealth talked to Dr Nanda Rajaneesh, General and Laparoscopic Surgeon, Apollo Spectra Hospital, Bangalore, to learn more about it.

What Is Oesophageal Cancer? 

The oesophagus (food pipe) is a long, hollow tube that connects the throat to your stomach. The food you swallow is moved through your oesophagus from the back of your throat to your stomach so it may be digested.

When a malignancy develops in this food pipe is known as oesophageal cancer. This type of cancer can occur anywhere in the oesophagus and affects the cells that line the inside of the food pipe. According to the American Cancer Society, oesophageal affects more men than women.

Also Read: Surviving Cancer: Actress Chhavi Mittal’s Winning Battle with Breast Cancer

Risk Factors Of Oesophageal Cancer 

Anything that raises your probability of contracting an illness like cancer is considered a risk factor. Risk factors for various types of cancer may vary. While some risk factors -- lifestyle related -- can be changed, factors such as genes, family history of cancer, and ageing cannot be altered. Here are some risk factors that may lead to oesophageal cancer.

  • Using tobacco and its products
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Poor dietary habits and choices, including not eating plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Obesity
  • Barrett's oesophagus, a precancerous change in the oesophagus
  • Obesity
  • Diet
  • Bile Reflux

These are some risk factors that may lead to the development of oesophageal cancer. However, it does not mean that having a risk factor will lead to oesophageal cancer. People who are not prone to these risk factors can also develop oesophageal cancer.

Also Read: World Cancer Day 2023: Role Of Awareness And Technology In Cancer Treatment

Prevention Of Oesophagal Cancer

According to Dr Rajaneesh, avoiding risk factors and increasing protective factors may help prevent cancer. One should keep the following tips in mind to reduce the chances of oesophagal cancer developing.

    • You should avoid tobacco and alcohol use.
    • Avoid spicy, pickled foods rich in nitroso compounds that increase the chances of oesophagal cancer.
    • Chemoprevention should be done with vitamins D and E, beta carotene, and selenium supplementation.
    • Ensure a healthy diet to prevent and manage GERD and use proton pump inhibitors as and when necessary.
    • Management of daily stress is also necessary to prevent the chances of malignancy.
    • Prompt treatment of oesophagal infections like candidiasis and HPV infections should be done.
    • It would be best to promptly treat Barrett's oesophagus by endoscopic radiofrequency ablation to prevent this cancer.
    • Regular endoscopic surveillance in high-risk populations helps in the early detection and prevention of advanced carcinoma of the oesophagus.
    • Severe iron deficiency, which is also a risk factor for upper oesophagal cancers, should be prevented timely.
    • Exercise and ensure a healthy weight to prevent the risk of obesity, which is also a risk factor for oesophageal cancer.


Since cancer is a dreaded illness, its cure lies in its prevention. Following these tips by the expert will eliminate the chances of oesophageal cancer occurring. If you suffer from any issues related to the oesophagus, it is important to consider talking to a doctor and getting a timely diagnosis.

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