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Esophageal Cancer: A Catastrophic Disease You Should Not Take Lightly

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Esophageal Cancer: A Catastrophic Disease You Should Not Take Lightly

Cancer, in any form, is extremely dangerous for patients. It not only hampers the production of healthy cells but also mutates them while multiplying their numbers in your body. While all cancers are catastrophic, the ones that are not easy to diagnose are the worst.

Esophageal cancer is one such disease that is not diagnosed readily. Patients often ignore it by assuming it to be a trivial health complication. This leads to most cases getting diagnosed at later stages. Your esophagus is a highly sensitive organ and needs to be catered to in a precise way. Any complications that seem dangerous should be tackled by the best esophageal surgeon in your city. Never take these matters lightly or it can cost you your life.

Let us understand this issue better by diving a little deeper into esophageal cancer.

What Is Esophageal Cancer?

Esophageal cancer is a cancer affecting your food pipe (the long muscular tube connecting your throat to your stomach). It starts in the tissue of your food pipe due and spreads due to the uncontrolled division of mutated cells. In most cases, the symptoms are not noticed until the cancer reaches an advanced stage. This makes esophageal cancer one of the most dangerous and catastrophic diseases a patient can encounter.

If detected early, the tumor can be removed through surgery. If an oncologist is not able to cure a patient due to an advanced cancer stage, they do their best to make the patient live as long as possible. This is why it is important to seek immediate diagnosis and treatment for the cancer before it gets worse.

What Are The Symptoms Of Esophageal Cancer?

Most symptoms of esophageal cancer are confused with relatively smaller and harmless conditions. Here are a few common signs that should prompt you to seek serious medical help:

•          Constant pain in your throat or back

•          Pain behind your breastbone or between shoulders

•          Coughing up or vomiting blood

•          Unexplained and sudden weight loss

•          A hoarse voice or cough

•          Heartburn

Once developed, esophageal cancer grows at an alarming rate. Being a flexible tube, your food pipe tends to expand around the tumor as it grows, giving you a false sense of everything being alright until things get worse.

What Causes Esophageal Cancer?

What makes this cancer worse is the fact that healthcare experts have not been able to pinpoint the exact cause of the complication. However, they have identified a few major risk factors that should not be taken lightly. Here are a few such factors that can trigger esophageal cancer if not controlled:

Tobacco And Alcohol Abuse

Excessive smoking or chewing tobacco can put you at a greater risk of esophageal cancer. Excessive and prolonged drinking can also be a major contributor, worsening the condition of your food pipe.

Obesity

Being overweight can lead to esophageal inflammation, putting you at a greater risk of esophageal cancer. Make sure you watch your weight and maintain an ideal BMI to steer clear of such complications.

Barret’s Esophagus

Barret’s Esophagus refers to a condition that involves the cells lying at the lower end of your esophagus going through a change because of chronic acid reflux. If not monitored, this can lead to the formation of a cancerous tumor in your food pipe.

HPV

HPV (human papillomavirus) is a virus leading to tissue changes in your esophagus, genitals, hands, and feet. If not checked, the viral infection can lead to the development of esophageal tumor(s).

Chemical Exposure

Occupational exposure to specific chemicals for a long time can also trigger the development and spread of esophageal cancer.

Getting Esophageal Cancer Diagnosed

If you notice any of the symptoms discussed above, make sure you get yourself diagnosed without any delay. Detecting esophageal cancer at an early stage can end up saving your life. When you approach your doctor with the concern, they will conduct a brief physical examination and ask you relevant questions about your condition.

To confirm the presence of a tumor, your doctor will then ask to get one or more of the following diagnostic tests done:

  • CT Scan: A CT (computed tomography) scan is one of the most common ways of detecting a cancerous tumor in your esophagus.
  • Barium Swallow: This involves your doctor having a close look at your esophagus through a series of X-ray tests. Here, you will be asked to drink a liquid containing barium to make it easier to identify tumors in your X-rays.
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy: Also known as EGD, this diagnostic test involves the use of a thin and flexible tube (endoscope) to examine your esophagus.
  • Biopsy: Healthcare professionals may also remove a small piece of your esophageal tissue to examine the presence of a tumor you should worry about.

Treating Esophageal Cancer

Once diagnosed, your oncologist will not waste any time and suggest the most suitable treatment procedure(s) to tackle your esophageal cancer. Here are some of the most common ways in which esophageal cancer can be treated:

  • Surgery: This is the most common way to treat esophageal cancer at an early stage. Here, the surgeon will remove your esophagus (partially or completely) to get rid of the tumor.
  • Radiotherapy: Radiotherapy involves using radiation to kill cancer cells through a beam. This is often used as an adjuvant treatment along with surgery.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy refers to a potent drug treatment where powerful chemicals are used to destroy cancer cells in your esophagus.
  • Targeted Therapy: Targeted therapy involves treating cancer using drugs that target HER2 proteins. These proteins often help cancerous cells grow in your esophagus, making matters worse.

The Final Word

Looking at the consequences, symptoms, and sensitivity of the condition makes it impossible to take esophageal cancer lightly. As it is rarely diagnosed at an early stage, the best you can do to stay away from esophageal cancer is to be mindful of the risk factors and take the best preventive measures under your control. Ultimately, leading a healthy life is the best (and often the only) way to keep such illnesses at bay!

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