What is Esophageal Cancer?
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What is Esophageal Cancer?

What is Esophageal Cancer?

This information is provided by Dr. Navneet Sharda as an educational source pertaining to prostate cancer. It is not intended as a substitute for a consultation with a qualified healthcare provider.

Dr. Navneet Sharda—Esophageal cancer is a malignancy that develops in tissues of the hollow, muscular canal (esophagus) along which food and liquid travel from the throat to the stomach. Esophageal cancer usually originates in the inner layers of the lining of the esophagus and grows outward. In time, the tumor can obstruct the passage of food and liquid, making swallowing painful and difficult. Since most patients are not diagnosed until the late stages of the disease, esophageal cancer is associated with poor quality of life and low survival rates. In general, esophageal cancer occurs more frequently in men than in women.


Causes and symptoms

As per Dr. Nav Sharda, The exact cause of esophageal cancer is unknown, although many investigators believe that chronic irritation of the esophagus is a major culprit. Unfortunately, symptoms generally don’t appear until the tumor has grown so large that the patient cannot be cured. Dysphasia (trouble swallowing or a sensation of having food stuck in the throat or chest) is the most common symptom.

These and other symptoms may be caused by esophageal cancer or by other conditions. A doctor should be consulted if any of the following problems occur:

  • Painful or difficulty swallowing
  • Weight loss
  • Pain behind the breastbone
  • Hoarseness and cough
  • Indigestion and heartburn



The following tests and procedures may be used:

  • Chest x-ray: An x-ray of the organs and bones inside the chest. An x-ray is a type of energy beam that can go through the body and onto film, making a picture of areas inside the body.
  • Barium swallow: A series of x-rays of the esophagus and stomach. The patient drinks a liquid that contains barium (a silver-white metallic compound). The liquid coats the esophagus and stomach, and x-rays are taken. This procedure is also called an upper GI series.
  • Esophagoscopy: A procedure to look inside the esophagus to check for abnormal areas. An esophagoscope is inserted through the mouth or nose and down the throat into the esophagus. An esophagoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue samples, which are checked under a microscope for signs of cancer.
  • Biopsy: The removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer. The biopsy is usually done during an esophagoscopy. Sometimes a biopsy shows changes in the esophagus that are not cancer but may lead to cancer.



Treatment for esophageal cancer is determined by the stage of the disease and the patient’s general health. The most important distinction to make is whether the cancer is curable. If the cancer is in the early stages, cure may be possible. If the cancer is advanced or if the patient will not tolerate major surgery, treatment is usually directed at palliation (relief of symptoms only) instead of cure.



  • Stage 0 is the earliest stage of the disease. Cancer cells are confined to the innermost lining of the esophagus.
  • Stage I esophageal cancer has spread slightly deeper, but still has not extended to nearby tissues, lymph nodes, or other organs.


Stage ll has two sub stages

  • Stage IIA, cancer has invaded the thick, muscular layer of the esophagus that propels food into the stomach and may involve connective tissue covering the outside of the esophagus.
  • Stage IIB, cancer has spread to lymph nodes near the esophagus and may have invaded deeper layers of esophageal tissue.


  • Stage III esophageal cancer has spread to tissues or lymph nodes near the esophagus or to the trachea (windpipe) or other organs near the esophagus.
  • Stage IV cancer has spread to distant organs like the liver, bones, and brain. Recurrent esophageal cancer is disease that develops in the esophagus or another part of the body after initial treatment.



There are different types of treatment for patients with esophageal cancer. Five types of standard treatment are used:

Surgery: Surgery is the most common treatment for cancer of the esophagus. Part of the esophagus may be removed in an operation called an esophagectomy

Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy.

External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer.

Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer.


Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.

Laser therapy: Laser therapy is a cancer treatment that uses a laser beam (a narrow beam of intense light) to kill cancer cells.

Electrocoagulation: Electrocoagulation is the use of an electric current to kill cancer cells.

Palliation: In addition to surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, other palliative measures can provide symptomatic relief. Dilatation of the narrowed portion of the esophagus with soft tubes can provide short-term relief of dysphasia. Placement of a flexible, self-expanding stent within the narrowed portion is also useful in allowing more food intake.


Cancer Care Centers is located in Las Vegas under the supervision of Cancer Specialist Dr. Nav (Navneet) Sharda. Cancer Care Centers specialize in treatment of various types of cancers like multiforme, meningioma, tonsil, tongue, laryngeal, parotid, neck, lung, breast, lymphoma, non hodgkins lymphoma, hodgkins disease, hodgkins lymphoma, skin cancer, melanoma, esophageal, gastric, pancreatic, colon, renal, kidney, ovarian, sarcoma, uterine cancer, cervical cancer, vaginal, brain, breast, vulvar cancer, bone metastasis, bone, osteosarcoma, endometrial cancercarcinoma, tumor, malignant and cancerous Cancers. We offer threapy like chemotherapy, radiotherapy, radiation therapy, radiation oncology, oncology, oncologist, immunotherapy, brachytherapy, stereotactic radiosurgery, IMRT, intensity modulated radiation therapy, conformal therapy, anaplastic astrocytoma, gioblastoma.

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