Oesophageal cancer is a type of cancer affecting the oesophagus (gullet) – the long tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach.
It mainly affects people in their 60s and 70s and is more common in men than women.
Oesophageal cancer doesn’t usually cause any symptoms in the early stages. It’s only when it gets bigger that symptoms tend to develop.
Symptoms of oesophageal cancer can include:
- difficulty swallowing
- persistent indigestion or heartburn
- regurgitation of food soon after eating
- loss of appetite and weight loss
- pain or discomfort in your upper abdomen chest or back
Causes of oesophageal cancer – The exact cause of oesophageal cancer is unknown, but the following things can increase your risk:
- persistent gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)
- drinking too much alcohol over a long period of time
- being overweight or obese
- having an unhealthy diet that’s low in fruit and vegetables
- Stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol, losing weight and having a healthy diet may help reduce your risk of developing oesophageal cancer.
Treatments for oesophageal cancer
- If oesophageal cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, it may be possible to cure it with:
- surgery to remove the affected section of oesophagus
- chemotherapy, with or without radiotherapy (chemoradiation), to kill the cancerous cells and shrink the tumour
- If oesophageal cancer is diagnosed at a later stage, a cure may not be achievable.
- But in these cases, surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy can be used to help keep the cancer under control and relieve any symptoms you have.