Learn more about esophageal cancer during April, which is esophageal Cancer Awareness Month.
Esophageal cancer has two different types.
Adenocarcinoma – Caused from long-term acid reflux disease.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma – A result of smoking and drinking in excess.
Esophageal Cancer is deadly, and the number of people being diagnosed with this cancer is increasing rapidly.
According to the American Cancer Society, in 2020 about 18,440 new esophageal cancer cases will be diagnosed and 16,170 deaths will occur from this cancer.
The United States Esophageal Cancer Survival
- Esophageal cancer makes up about 1% of all cancers diagnosed in the US.
- Most people do not realize that chronic heartburn or acid reflux is a primary risk factor.
- You may not experience symptoms until cancer has spread and is difficult to treat effectively.
- During the 1960s and 1970s, only about 5% of patients survived over 5 years. Now that rate is up to 20%.
- In 2019 there were an estimated 17,650 diagnoses with over 16,080 deaths.
Stages of Esophageal Cancer
When someone is diagnosed with esophageal cancer, doctors will try to figure out what stage it is in. This will determine how serious the cancer is and what the best course of treatment will be.
- The earliest stage is called stage 0 (high-grade dysplasia)
- Then it ranges from I through IV
- The lower the number, the less it has spread.
How is the stage of cancer determined?
- The size of the tumor
- Has cancer spread to lymph nodes?
- The metastasis to distant lymph nodes or organs.
Staging systems for Esophageal Cancer
Pathological stage of surgery stage.
This is determined by examining tissue removed during surgery. It is also the most common system used.
If the surgery isn’t possible or will be done after other treatments then the clinical stage is determined by results of exam, biopsy, and imaging.
If chemo or radiation is given before surgery, then you receive neoadjuvant therapy. After this and separate stage will be determined after surgery.
The Scale for grading esophagus cancers is 1 – 3
- GX – or grade unknown
- Grade 1 well-differentiated or low grade. (the cancer cells look more like normal esophagus cells)
- Grade 2 is moderately differentiated.
- Grade 3 is poorly differentiated (the cancer cells look very abnormal)
Treatments for Esophagus Cancer
Local Treatments treat the tumor in a specific location. This tends to be more useful in the early stages. This includes surgery, radiation therapy, and endoscopic treatments.
Systemic treatments are drugs that are taken by mouth or directly into the blood. These therapies travel through the whole body allowing them to reach cancer cells anywhere in the body. This includes chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.
The stage of cancer determines the type of treatment. Treatments can also be combined or used one after the other.
Esophageal Cancer disease is increasing. Unfortunately, only people who catch this cancer at the earliest stages are likely to be cured. It is so important to detect this cancer early. We are spreading awareness and advocating early detection.
If you or a family member suspect an esophagus-related disorder, Schedule an appointment today!