WHAT IS THE OESOPHAGUS?
The oesophagus, also known as the gullet or food pipe, is a muscular tube approximately 23cm/9inches long that transports food and liquid into the stomach. It sits directly behind the wind pipe in the chest cavity.
Layers of Esophagus
The Inner layer or lining (mucosa): The lining of the esophagus is moist so that food can pass to the stomach.
Submucosa: The glands in this layer make mucus. Mucus keeps the esophagus moist.
Muscle layer: The muscles push the food down to the stomach
Outer layer: The outer layer covers the esophagus.
TYPES OF OESOPHAGEAL CANCER
SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA
Begins in squamous cells that line the middle and upper part of the oesophagus. Can spread to nearby lymph nodes and through the bloodstream to other parts of the body if it is not found and treated early.
begins in glandular tissue in the lower part of the oesophagus.
Can spread to nearby lymph nodes and through the bloodstream to other parts of the body if it is not found and treated early.
Many people diagnosed with cancer want to know what caused the disease. The exact cause of oesophageal cancers are not known, but some factors may increase your risk. These include a history of smoking, drinking too much alcohol, being overweight or obese, being over age 50, and being male.
Risk factors contribute to the development of cancer.
The development of oesophageal cancer is complex and some patients with the disease may have no risk factors, some may have one or more.
Other risks for oesophageal cancer include:
• Medical conditions, including gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) and Barrett’s oesophagus, coeliac disease, tylosis and achalasia
• Exposure to certain chemical fumes or dry-cleaning agents
• Frequent drinking of very hot liquids.
Having one or more of these risk factors does not mean you will get oesophageal cancer. However, these factors are often seen in people with these cancers.
- Difficulty or painful swallowing
- Weight loss
- Feeling of fullness
- Persistent coughing or hiccups
- Nausea and vomiting
GORD and BARRETT’S OESOPHAGUS
GORD and Barrett’s oesophagus Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease are risk factors for oesophageal cancer. People who experience repeated episodes of reflux may be diagnosed with GORD. This is when stomach acid backs up into the oesophagus, causing heartburn. Over time, the walls of the oesophagus become damaged, causing inflammation or loss of tissue (oesophagitis). This may cause the cells lining the oesophagus to be replaced by a different type of cell. This is called Barrett’s oesophagus.