Esophageal cancer is cancer that develops in the esophagus, the muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach. The wall of the esophagus is made up of several layers of cells, and cancers generally start from the inner layer and grow out.
The risk for esophageal cancer increases with age; the risk is also greater for men than women. Smoking and heavy drinking also raise the risk for this type of cancer.
Your doctor will take a small tissue sample from your esophagus to confirm your cancer diagnosis, but he or she may order other tests as well.
Treatment for esophageal cancer depends on the stage of your disease. You may need surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or photodynamic therapy, which uses a special drug and laser to kill cancer cells. A newer alternative treatment to surgery is electrocoagulation, which kills cancer cells with electricity.
Side effects are common during cancer treatment, but they also vary from person to person. Your health care provider will work with you to ease the side effects you experience.
Learn more about esophageal cancer from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Physician Data Query (PDQ®) for patients. It includes information about prevention, screening, and treatment.