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:
- Squamous cell carcinoma develops in the thin, flat cells of the mucosa which line the oesophagus.
- 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.