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Oesophageal cancer (cancer of the oesophagus)
Posted on Aug 18, 2015
Oesophageal cancer occurs when malignant tumour forms in the oesophagus-a long, void tube that runs from your throat to your stomach. The oesophagus is responsible for carrying food you swallow to your stomach to be digested.

Esophageal cancer normally develops in the cells that line the inside of the esophagus. As it grows it can affect the deep tissues and muscle of the esophagus. A tumor can appear anywhere along the length of the esophagus. It is commonly seen in men than women.

Risks for developing oesophageal cancer
Experts are of the opinion that some irrational habits and conditions can cause irritation of the cells of the oesophagus which contributes to the development of cancer. These habits and conditions include:
At the beginning of the cancer, there are no signs and symptoms. But as it progresses, you might experience:

Diagnosing oesophageal cancer
Your doctor may suggest certain testing methods for diagnosing oesophageal cancer including:
  • In an endoscopy, a camera is attached to a tube that goes down your throat and allows your doctor to view the lining of your oesophagus to check for irregularities and irritation.
  • An X-Ray is done after you ingest chemical called barium that allows your doctor to examine the lining of your oesophagus. The process is called a barium swallow.
  • A biopsy is done in which a sample of the suspicious tissue is removed with the help of an endoscope and sent to a lab for testing.
If cancer is benign in nature, your doctor may recommend surgery. However, your doctor may feel that chemotherapy or radiation therapy would be the best course of action. Sometimes, these treatments are necessary for a successful surgery. These therapies shrink the tumour which helps the surgeon remove it easily.
  • Surgery: If the tumour has not turned malignant, your doctor can remove it using an endoscope. In extreme situations, a part of your oesophagus and the lymph nodes around it are removed. The tube is then restructured with the help of tissue from your stomach or large intestine. Sometimes, a part of the top of the stomach may be removed as well.
  • Chemotherapy: It employs various medications to attack cancerous cells. Chemotherapy may be used pre or post surgery. It is sometimes used alongside radiation therapy.
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high beams, such as X-Rays to execute cancer cells. Radiation may be given with the use of a machine or with a device placed near the tumour.
  • Other Treatments: If your oesophagus is blocked due to cancer, your doctor may implant a stent, or tube made of metal, into your oesophagus to keep it open. In some cases, Photodynamic therapy, which involves injecting your tumour with a photosensitive drug that attacks the tumour when exposed to light, is used.

Although there is no sure way to prevent oesophageal cancer, there are a few steps you can take to lower your risk. Avoiding smoking, chewing tobacco, restricting alcohol consumption is the key.
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