What Are the Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer?
Usually, esophageal cancer symptoms are not visible until it grows enough to narrow the esophagus. Cancer can also grow beyond the esophagus and spread either in to the surrounding tissues or distant organs of the body before the diagnosis.
People who have esophageal cancer may experience the following symptoms:
- Coughing , vomiting
- Dysphagia, i.e., difficulty in swallowing
- Pressure, burning or pain in the chest
- Unexplained weight loss
- Heartburn or indigestion
What are the Causes of Esophageal Cancer?
Factors that cause irritation in the Esophagus and increase the risks of esophageal cancer are:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- High consumption of alcohol
- Bile reflux
- Regular consumption of hot liquids
- A diet poor in fruits and vegetables
- Esophageal burns due to accidental and intentional swallowing of caustic materials like bleach
- Chromosome and gene abnormalities
What Are the Different Types of Esophageal Cancer?
Here are the types of esophageal cancer:
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Squamous cell cancer occurs in the flat cells lining the esophagus. This kind of cancer occurs usually in the upper and middle portions of the esophagus and is usually considered to be the most common cancer in the world.
- Adenocarcinoma: It occurs in the glandular cells of the Esophagus. Usually, it develops in the lower part of the esophagus, which is nearer to the stomach.
- Other rare types of esophageal cancer are small cell carcinoma, sarcoma, lymphoma, melanoma, and choriocarcinoma.
What Are the Treatment Options for Esophageal Cancer?
The treatment for esophageal cancer depends on the cancer stage and patient’s current health. The esophageal cancer treatment includes the following options:
- Surgery – If the cancer has not spread past the superficial layers of the Esophagus or to distant organs, a doctor can use an endoscope to remove the tumor. In severe cases, a portion of the Esophagus and lymph nodes around it are also removed. Further, the tube is reconstructed the stomach or large intestine to enable feedings. If that is not possible, percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy may be used in which a tube is passed into the patient’s stomach through the abdominal wall to allow tube feedings.
- Chemotherapy– It involves the use of drugs to hinder the cancer cell’s ability to grow and divide. It can be used both before and after surgery.
- Radiation Therapy – It uses beams of radiation to attack the cancer cells. The radiation may be administered externally with the help of a machine or by temporarily inserting a radioactive wire into the esophagus.
- Targeted Therapy - It is the treatment that targets cancer-specific genes to hinder the growth and spread of cancer cells while restricting damage to healthy cells. Mainly, there are two types of targeted therapy - Monoclonal Antibodies and Small-Molecule Drugs. Known as immunotherapy, it works by killing only tumor cells; unlike chemotherapy, which can also destroy healthy cells as a side effect.
- Photodynamic Therapy - Light therapy may be used if cancer cells are small in size and limit to only one place. As part of the treatment, a photosensitising drug is injected into the patient’s body where cells absorb and keep the drug concentrated for a longer duration. When the patient is exposed to laser lights of a particular wavelength the drug helps in destroying cancer cells.
At Max Hospital, we have the best cancer specialists in India who specializes in treating esophageal cancer with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and photodynamic therapy.
Life After Esophageal Cancer Treatment
The end of esophageal cancer treatment is both stressful and exciting. You may be excited to finish the treatment, but the thought of its recurrence might worry you.
Recuperation after esophageal cancer treatment means returning to familiar things and making new life choices. Here are a few things that can help a cancer survivor lead a good life post-treatment:
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
- Adopt a physically active lifestyle
- Seek support from family and friends
- Keep stress at bay
- Dietary modifications in the form of small quantity frequent meals
Follow Up Care After Esophageal Cancer Treatment
Even if esophageal cancer treatment is over, it is essential to have regular follow-up visits with your doctor for years. Some side-effects of the treatment might take years to go or not show up until years after you have finished your treatment. During follow-up visits, your doctors will inquire about your health and may also perform some necessary tests to look for signs and symptoms of cancer recurrence or side effects of the treatment.
The follow-up visit with doctors is a good time to discuss your experience or concerns and report any new symptoms to get immediate medical attention. To some extent, the frequency of follow-up visits and tests would depend on the cancer stage and type of treatment.
Book an appointment at best cancer hospital in India for esophageal cancer treatment.