Oesophageal Cancer

Facts and faq’s

  Q. What is oesophagus or oesophageal cancer?
Oesophageal cancer starts in the food pipe – also known as your oesophagus or gullet. The oesophagus is the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach.


There are two main types of oesophageal cancer:
  1. Squamous cell carcinoma develops in the thin, flat cells of the mucosa which line the oesophagus.
  2. Adenocarcinoma develops in the glandular cells of the submucosa.


Cancer can develop anywhere along the length of the oesophagus. Cancers in the upper oesophagus are nearly always squamous cell cancers. Most cancers in the middle of the oesophagus are also squamous cell cancers. Most cancers in the lower oesophagus, including the junction where the oesophagus joins the stomach, are adenocarcinomas. Over 95% (95 out of 100) of oesophageal cancers are squamous cell carcinomas or adenocarcinomas.
  Q. What are the most common symptoms of oesophageal cancer?
  • difficulty swallowing (a feeling that food is sticking in your throat or chest)
  • weight loss
  • food coming back up before reaching the stomach (regurgitation) or being sick (vomiting)
  • difficulty swallowing saliva causing saliva build up
  • pain when swallowing
  • constant indigestion or heartburn
  • a cough
  • a hoarse voice (caused by pressure on the nerve that supplies the voice box)
  • dull pain or discomfort behind the breastbone or in the back
  Q. What are the risk factors?
  • alcohol
  • smoking
  • chronic reflux
  • low intake of fruit and vegetables

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