- Squamous cell cancer—from the cells that line the upper part of the esophagus
- Adenocarcinoma—from the cells where the esophagus meets the stomach
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- Smoking, or smokeless tobacco use, such as chewing tobacco or snuff
- Excess alcohol use—risk increases with combined alcohol and tobacco use
- History of gastroesophageal reflux, especially if this has caused Barrett esophagus
- Achalasia—chronic dilation of the esophagus
- Radiation therapy
- Damaged esophagus from toxic substances, such as lye
- History of head and/or neck cancer
- Human papilloma virus (HPV) infection
- Certain rare genetic conditions, such as Plummer Vinson syndrome and tylosis
- Trouble swallowing
- Painful swallowing
- Weight loss
- Cough (from aspiration)
- Hoarse voice
- Pain in the throat, back, chest
- Nausea, vomiting
- Coughing up blood
- Black tarry stools
- External radiation therapy—radiation directed at the esophagus from a source outside the body
- Internal radiation therapy—radioactive materials placed into the esophagus in or near the cancer cells
Chemoradiotherapy or Combined Modality Therapy
- Don't smoke or use other tobacco products. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit .
- Drink alcohol only in moderation. Moderate alcohol intake 2 drinks or less per day for men and 1 drink or less per day for women.
- Eat a healthful diet that includes fruits and vegetables, and foods high in dietary fiber, and less dairy, processed foods, and red meat.
- Exercise regularly—Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week. Increased activity is associated with bigger reductions in risk.
- Get medical treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
- If you are overweight or obese, talk with your doctor or a dietitian about losing weight.
- Talk with your doctor the human papilloma virus vaccine (HPV) to prevent HPV infection.
American Association of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery http://www.entnet.org
American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org
Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery http://www.entcaada.org
ASGE Technology Committee, Kantsevoy SV, et al. Endoscopic mucolsal resection and endoscopic submucosal dissection. Gastrointest Endosc. 2008;68(1):11-18.
Barrett esophagus. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated September 23, 2014. Accessed September 24, 2014.
Esophageal cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 27, 2014. Accessed September 24, 2014.
Esophageal cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/esophageal. Accessed August 5, 2013.
Esophagus cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003098-pdf.pdf. Updated May 21, 2014. Accessed September 24, 2014.
Far AE, Aghakhani A, Hamkar R, et al. Frequency of human papillomavirus infection in oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma in Iranian patients. J Infect Dis. 2007;39(1):58-62.
Kato H, Nakajima M. Treatments for esophageal cancer: A review. Gen Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2013;61(6):330-335.
Lightdale CJ. Endoscopic treatments for early esophageal cancer. Gastroenterol Hepatol (NY). 2007;3(12):904-906.
Nakajima M, Kato H. Treatment options for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2013;14(10):1345-1354.
Vignesh S, Hoffe SE, et al. Endoscopic therapy of neoplasia related to Barrett's esophagus and endoscopic palliation of esophageal cancer. Cancer Control. 2013;20(2):117-129.
1/13/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Wysowski DK. Reports of esophageal cancer with oral bisphosphonate use. N Engl J Med. 2009;360:89-90.
8/23/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Cardwell CR, Abnet CC, Cantwell MM, Murray LJ. Exposure to oral bisphosphonates and risk of esophageal cancer. JAMA. 2010;304(6):657-663.
6/17/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Liu X, Wang X, et al. Dietary patterns and oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Cancer. 2014;110(11):2785-2795.
1/22/2015 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Chen Y, Yu C, et al. Physical activity and risks of esophageal and gastric cancers: A meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2014;9(2):e88082.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 01/2015 -
- Update Date: 01/22/2015 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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