Cancer of the esophagus accounts for only around 1% of the cancers diagnosed in the United States. This cancer occurs in the tube connecting the throat to the stomach. According to the American Cancer Society, survival rates for this type of cancer have improved over time. In the past, only around 5% of patients with esophageal cancer survived at least five years after diagnosis. Today, approximately 20% of patients have a survival rate of five years or more. Those with cancer that remains localized to the esophagus have an even better survival rate, with around 45% surviving five years or longer.
9. Types of Esophageal Cancer
The two types of cancer involving the esophagus are squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma refers to cancer of the squamous cells that line the surface of the esophagus. Meanwhile, adenocarcinoma refers to cancer that begins in the gland cells that line the digestive tract and secrete mucus. Adenocarcinomas tend to start where the esophagus and stomach connect. The American Cancer Society reports that adenocarcinoma has now replaced squamous cell carcinoma as the most common type of esophageal cancer in the U.S.
8. Risk Factors
Conditions that result in repeated injury to the esophagus may increase your risk of esophageal cancer. The Mayo Clinic lists gastroesophageal reflux disease, smoking, obesity, alcohol, and habitually drinking hot liquids as risk factors for this type of cancer. Barrett’s esophagus is another risk factor. This is a condition in which acid from the stomach causes repeated injury to the cells of the esophagus. Over time, gland cells may replace the healthy squamous cells in this area and can become pre-cancerous. Additionally, studies suggest that excluding fruits and vegetables from your diet may also increase your risk of esophageal cancer.