Esophageal cancer is a rare cancer that begins in the cells that line the esophagus. Common types of esophageal cancer include adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
The esophagus is a hollow tube that links the throat and the stomach. It’s part of your digestive system. When certain types of cells in the esophagus lining grow rapidly, it is esophageal cancer.
The two main types of esophageal cancer are adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, which make up 95% of cases. The cell type where the cancer starts defines the type of cancer.
Here’s an overview of the types of esophageal cancer and their treatments.
Adenocarcinomas start in the glandular cells of the esophagus. Glandular cells release fluids such as mucus into the digestive system. These cancers usually occur in the lower part of the esophageal tract, closer to the stomach.
Squamous cell carcinomas start in the cells of the lining of the esophagus. Squamous cells are in the
Esophageal squamous cell carcinomas are associated with
Besides adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, other rare types of esophageal cancer can occur. These cancers do not occur often but can
- Lymphomas appear in the glands of the lymphatic system.
- Sarcomas appear in the body’s connective tissues, such as muscles and tendons.
- Melanomas start in the body’s melanocyte cells.
Sometimes, an adenocarcinoma
Esophageal cancer symptoms
Esophageal cancer often does not have symptoms in the early stages. As it progresses, you may experience:
- pain or difficulty when swallowing
- unintentional weight loss
- frequent choking while eating
- food coming back up the esophagus
- chest pain
- chronic cough
Esophageal cancer has a 5-year relative survival rate of
According to a
Treatment options are the same for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. They all involve removing cancerous tissue or killing cancer cells. Depending on the stage of the cancer, doctors may
- combination of chemotherapy and radiation (chemoradiation)
- laser therapy
- electrocoagulation (electric current)
The most common treatment for esophageal cancer is a type of surgery called esophagectomy. During this procedure, the cancerous part of the esophagus is removed. The stomach is then rejoined to the remaining part of the upper esophagus.
In early stage cancer, one treatment option may be endoscopic resection. This involves the removal of the cancerous tissue without cutting out a section of the esophagus. A surgeon places a thin tube into the esophagus through the mouth or a small cut in the skin and removes cancerous tissue through the tube using surgical instruments.
Newer treatments for esophageal cancer include monoclonal antibody therapy, a type of targeted therapy where immune system proteins
Esophageal cancer is rare and accounts for
Although these are different types of tumors, treatment options are the same for both. Most individuals will initially have surgery to treat esophageal cancer. Newer treatments like monoclonal antibody therapy are in clinical trials but may offer new hope for people with the condition.