The esophageal cancer is a kind of cancer which arises from the pipe of food or the food pipe called as esophagus. The esophagus runs between the throat of a human body and the stomach.
Signs and symptoms of Esophageal Cancer
The most prominent of symptoms are not appeared until this cancer has an infiltration of 60% of the total circumference of the esophagus. This is when the tumor has already a wide spread stage which is highly advanced in nature. It narrows down the tube because the tumor has its physical appearance there.
- The more often symptoms are difficulties in swallowing and loss of weight. Loss in weight is seen mainly in the squamous cell carcinoma and is less likely in adenocarcinomas
- Other symptoms might be inclusive of pain accompanied with swallowing
- The area behind the breastbone and the stomach’s region makes a feeling like the heart burn. The pain severs when swallowing is performed
- Since the esophagus contracts, nausea and vomiting occurs accompanied by frequent food regurgitation and coughing
- The surface of the tumor might be fragile in nature. Bleeding may occur which further causes blood in vomiting
- Since the surrounding structures are compressed which highly occurs in the disease stages that are advanced, problems like the obstruction of the upper airways, hypercalcemia and the superior vena cava syndrome can occur
Diagnosis of Esophageal Cancer
The tumor is diagnosed usually via barium meal. But the best of diagnosis is done while using the endoscope via the means of endoscopy. A tube with flexibility with some light and a small camera are passed in to the tube of esophagus for the purpose of the wall examination. A few biopsies can be taken where the lesions are under suspicion or where some signs of malignancy are shown.
Some additional tests might be needed in order to confirm the spread of the cancer. A computed tomography (CT) of the chest portion along with CT of pelvis and the abdomen is helpful to evaluate that if the spread of the cancer is in the tissues adjacent or in a few organs which are distant like the lymph nodes and the liver.
PET (positron emission tomography) is also a good way of estimation of the extent to which the disease has spread and had a regard of being more precise when compared to computed tomography. Esophageal ultrasound (endoscopic) has the authority of providing the information of the stages related to the level of invasion of the tumor and the possibility of spread to the lymph nodes.
Management and Treatment of Esophageal Cancer
Adequate kind of nutrition needs to be administered as the first step along with adequate dental care. Factors which influence the kind of treatment are the kind and type of cancer involved. Also depends the person’s condition in general.
Curative intention treatment has a restriction to a localized form of disease. Widespread disease is treated palliatively. Chemotherapy is used in this case to prolong survival rate and radiotherapies are used to relieve the symptoms involved.
Surgery namely esophagectomy, i.e. removal of the whole esophagus might be performed if the cancer is in its early stages.