What is Esophageal Cancer?
Cancer of the esophagus affects the stomach larynx (throat), connecting muscle tube. After swallowing, the esophagus enters the esophagus and moves into the stomach, pulled by gravity and pushed by the contraction of the muscles in its wall. The entrance and exit of the esophagus is closed by muscle rings that open and close to manage the passage of food.
If the sphincter at the stomach entrance does not work well, gastroesophageal reflux disease may occur. The liquid coming up from the esophagus is acidic and irritates the lining. This chronic irritation of the esophagus is a well-known factor in esophageal cancer, although there are other risk factors.
What are the Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer?
At the onset of the disease, esophageal cancer rarely causes specific and prominent symptoms. Therefore, it is not easy to diagnose the disease at an early stage. However, esophageal cancer can trigger the following symptoms.
Painful swallowing, difficulty swallowing solid food, feeling like eating sticking to the breastbone,
Unexplained weight loss,
Persistent hoarseness (more than 2 weeks),
These symptoms do not necessarily indicate the presence of a cancerous tumor. They can be signs of other more common problems. If such symptoms occur, it is important to see a doctor so he can perform appropriate examinations and determine the cause.
What are the Treatment Methods of Esophageal Cancer?
The treatment of esophageal cancer can be treated with surgery or a combination of several treatments. Treatment options vary depending on the location of the tumor and the stage of the cancer. The surgeon can perform a partial or complete esophagectomy. If the tumor is superficial, it is sometimes (but rarely) possible to remove the affected part by inserting a tube with an objective (endoscope) orally to access and destroy the diseased tissue.
Otherwise, the surgeon will remove some or all of the esophagus, depending on where the tumor is located. It also removes nearby lymph nodes. Sometimes, if the tumor is at the bottom of the esophagus, part of the stomach may also need to be removed.
The surgeon then connects the stomach to the area of the preserved esophagus. Sometimes the surgeon replaces the operated esophagus with part of the intestine. The person undergoing surgery can spend a few days in intensive care. He must then learn to swallow again and be fed intravenously or through a tube until he is able to swallow again.
How is the Chemotherapy Process in Esophageal Cancer?
In some cases, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are given before surgery to reduce the size of the tumor. Radiation therapy can also be used after surgery to complete its effect and kill any remaining cancer cells.
Radiation therapy means sending rays to a specific point to destroy cancer cells. Since high-energy rays also reach healthy cells, this therapy has various more or less bothersome side effects. These include fatigue, inflammation of the skin, redness and sensitivity, chest pain or difficulty swallowing.
Chemotherapy drugs destroy cancer cells, but also affect certain healthy cells and sometimes cause serious side effects. The combination of treatments makes the treatment more effective, but also increases the intensity of side effects. These usually disappear when healthy cells have time to regenerate.
Some tumors can block the esophagus and prevent the passage of food. In this case, the surgeon may insert a tube (stent) into the esophagus to keep the esophagus open.