Esophageal cancer cases have been rising over the years, so it is important to understand the cancer and if you may be at risk for developing the disease.
Your esophagus is the long pipe that goes from your throat to your stomach. Cancer of the esophagus can be one of two types: squamous cell carcinoma, which is cancer that develops in the upper part of the esophagus, and adenocarcinoma, which develops in the lower two thirds of the esophagus.
Esophageal cancer has a low survival rate if it is not identified in the early stages, which is why early diagnosis is so important.
What are the risk factors for esophageal cancer?
There are several risk factors associated with developing esophageal cancer.
- Gender: Men are more likely than women to develop esophageal cancer.
- Age: Those who are over the age of 50 are at a higher risk.
- Diet and Exercise: Those who have lived an unhealthy lifestyle when it comes to diet and exercise, may be more likely to develop esophageal cancer
- Acid Reflux: If you experience regular acid reflux, you are at a higher risk for esophageal cancer. Over time, scar tissue can form where acid has burned the esophagus, and this scar tissue can eventually become cancerous.
- Smoking and Alcohol: If you have had a history of smoking or drinking, your risk is higher for developing esophageal cancer. Talk to your doctor about how to quit smoking and reduce your alcohol consumption.
- Family History: If someone in your family has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer, you may be at a higher risk too.
- Drinking Tea: This is a surprising one, but recent studies have shown that drinking hot tea can lead to esophageal cancer. If you are a regular hot tea drinker, it is recommended that you let your cup of tea cool down to below 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and to stick to no more than two cups of hot tea per day.
How is esophageal cancer treated?
Treatment will depend on how far along the cancer is, but usually chemotherapy and radiation are used to shrink the tumor. And then with squamous cell carcinoma cases, surgery is often performed to remove the cancer completely.
Surgery for esophageal cancer usually involves removing part of the esophagus and reconstructing it. This surgery usually requires a recovery time of about 5-10 days in the hospital, followed by a week or two more of recovery at home.
Esophageal cancer can be dangerous and difficult to treat, so it is important to reduce your risk factors. Having a regular check-in with your doctor and receiving screenings can also be important, so that any cancer can be detected early on.