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Esophageal Cancer Symptoms

Esophagus is a hollow muscular tube through which food passes from the throat to the stomach. It is located just behind the trachea (windpipe). In an adult, the esophagus is about 10 inches long.

When the tissues lining the esophagus become malignant or cancerous the condition is called Esophageal cancer or cancer of esophagus. Depending on the type of cells turning malignant there are two types of esophageal cancer: Squamous cell carcinoma of esophagus (cancer that begins in flat cells lining the esophagus) and adenocarcinoma of the esophagus (cancer that begins in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids).

Here are few symptoms of esophageal cancer:

  • Difficult or painful swallowing: This is one of the most common symptoms of esophageal cancer. The throat feels irritated or with pressure and there is persistent pain in esophagus that don’t go away.
  • Heartburn: The pain or burning sensation behind the breast bone is known as heartburn. In esophagus cancer there may be mild to severe heartburn.
  • Unintentional and severe weight loss
  • Hoarseness in voice and chronic cough
  • A sensation of food being stuck in the throat or chest
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing up blood
  • Hiccups which are painful and difficult

Facts and Statistics of Esophageal Cancer Symptoms:

  • Men are four times more at risk of getting this cancer than women.
  • African-Americans are at higher risks of getting this disease when compared to the whites in United States.
  • Out of the two types of this cancer, squamous cell carcinoma type is the one responsible for 95 percent cases of esophageal cancer diagnosis.
  • Adenocarcinoma esophageal cancer is diagnosed in less than 15 percent of the cases of esophageal cancer.
  • People above the age of 65 years are more prone to this cancer and the risk increases as the person ages.
  • When a person is aged above 65 years, the chances of this cancer increases by 20 times.
  • It stands seventh in the list of cancers which cause most number of deaths in men in the United States.
  • Environment and nutritional factors also play an important role in causing this cancer as the statistics vary from one region to another.
  • It is observed that the symptoms of Adenocarcinoma esophageal cancer has been rising sharply in the white males, whereas the cases of squamous cell carcinoma either remain steady or are declining.
  • Alcohol consumption and smoking of cigarettes remain two most important factors for causing this cancer as results of numerous studies on this topic.
  • The cancer causing effects of alcohol and tobacco are found to be present more strongly in squamous cell carcinoma than for adenocarcinoma of the esophagus.
  • Though the exact mechanisms of these factors cause the disease is not known yet, it is proposed by researchers that alcohol involved in all the stages of esophageal cancer advancement.
  • Chemicals present in tobacco such as nitrosamines, is believed to promote the beginning of esophageal carcinoma.

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