The hardest part of dealing with esophageal cancer is not knowing what the future brings, but learning to live in the present.”
– Terry Healey
Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month is observed every April to raise awareness about a cancer that has seen a steady increase in diagnoses over the past few decades. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, esophageal cancer affects approximately 604 100 people worldwide each year, causing around 544 076 deaths.
Esophageal cancer is a disease that affects the esophagus, which is the tube that connects the throat to the stomach. The most common type of esophageal cancer is adenocarcinoma, which begins in the glands that produce mucus in the lining of the esophagus. The other type, squamous cell carcinoma, begins in the thin, flat cells that line the upper part of the esophagus.
There are several risk factors associated with esophageal cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, the biggest risk factor for developing esophageal cancer is smoking or using other tobacco products. Other risk factors include drinking alcohol, having gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), having Barrett’s esophagus, being obese, and having a family history of esophageal cancer.
Symptoms of esophageal cancer can be vague and are often mistaken for symptoms of other medical conditions. Some of the symptoms that may be associated with esophageal cancer include difficulty swallowing, chest pain, heartburn, hoarseness, and weight loss.
Early detection is key to successful treatment of esophageal cancer. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with esophageal cancer, it is important to speak with your doctor. Your doctor may recommend tests such as an upper endoscopy or a biopsy to look for signs of cancer.
Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month is an opportunity to learn more about this disease and to promote early detection and treatment. By raising awareness, we can help prevent more cases of esophageal cancer and improve the lives of those already affected.