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MedicineWorld.org Oncology - Cancer - esophageal cancer
Your gateway to information on esophageal cancer

MedicineWorld.Org: Esophageal cancer

  • Overview
  • Risk factors
  • Symptoms
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  • Esophageal Cancer

    What all factors predispose to esophageal cancer?
    Various substances and conditions were shown to predispose to esophageal cancer (known as risk factors). More established risk factors for esophageal cancer are discussed below.

    • Smoking
      Smoking is associated with increased risk of developing esophageal cancer. If a smoker uses excess alcohol, the risk is greatly magnified to more than the combined effects of smoking and alcohol.

    • Alcohol
      Excess alcohol use increases the risk of esophageal cancer. If combined with smoking the risk is magnified as mentioned above.

    • Diet
      Diet, which is high in fat, low in protein and low in carbohydrate, has shown to increase the risk of esophageal cancer. Use of nitrosamine, (a food additive some times used in Chinese food) may increase the risk of esophageal cancer.

    • Age
      The risk of developing esophageal cancer increases with age. The highest risk of esophageal cancer is in age group 7o to 80.

    • Gender
      Men have three fold increased risk of developing esophageal cancer compared to women.

    • Race
      African American race has three fold increased risk of developing esophageal cancer compared to the Caucasians.

    • Long term irritation of esophagus by acid
      People who suffer from long term acid eructation or upper abdominal discomfort may be suffering from a condition called GERD (gastroesophageal reflex disease) which basically means there is leaking of the acid from the stomach to the esophagus. People who have long term GERD are at increased risk of developing esophageal cancer.

    • Barretts esophagus
      People who have long term GERD (gastroesophageal reflex disease) may develop a condition called Barretts esophagus. In this condition the cells lining the esophagus at the site of constant contact changes to different cell type due to long term irritation of the acid. Barretts esophagus is associated with a very high risk of esophageal cancer.

    • Occupational exposure to chemicals
      Long-term exposure to some chemicals like perchloroethylene may increase the risk of esophageal cancer. Perchloroethylene is commonly used in the dry-cleaning industry and subsequently dry cleaning workers have a higher risk of esophageal cancer.

    • Frequent consumption of very hot liquids
      Frequent consumption of very hot liquids may increase your risk of esophageal cancer.

    • Caustic injury to esophagus
      Accidental ingestion of highly irritant chemicals like lye may lead to increased risk of developing esophageal cancer several years after the actual ingestion of the injurious chemical.

    • Tylosis
      Tylosis is a rare genetically inherited disease with increasing thickening of skin of the palms and soles. Patients who have tylosis may have wart like growths in the esophagus and have a very high risk (about 40%) of developing esophageal cancer.

    • Severe iron deficiency
      Severe iron deficiency can lead to a condition called Plummer-Vinson-Patterson-Kelly syndrome with anemia, inflammation of the tongue and brittle finger nails. This condition is associated with increased risk of esophageal cancer.

    • Prior history of cancer
      People who previously had cancer of airway system and digestive system may have increased risk of developing esophageal cancer

    • Achalasia
      Achalasia is a condition in which the lower end of esophagus remains contracted, causing obstruction of flow of food and drinks to the stomach. Esophagus above the level of obstruction gets narrow and dilated. Continuation of this problem over a long period of time predisposes to development of esophageal cancer.

    Esophageal cancer: resources

    Esophageal cancer risk factors
    Do We Know What Causes Esophagus Cancer?   (American Cancer Society)
    What Are the Risk Factors for Esophagus Cancer?   (American Cancer Society)
    Dietary Habits Associated With Esophageal Cancer   (Dept. of Agriculture)
    Barretts Esophagus   (Jackson Gastroentrology)
    Barretts esophagus   (Torgan)

    Esophageal cancer: Selected reading

    The Official Patient's Sourcebook on Esophageal Cancer
    by Icon Health Publications
    21st Century Complete Medical Guide to Esophageal Cancer
    by PM Medical Health News


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