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Esophageal Cancer

Cancer that forms in tissues lining the esophagus (the muscular tube through which food passes from the throat to the stomach). Two types of esophageal cancer are squamous cell carcinoma (cancer that begins in flat cells lining the esophagus) and adenocarcinoma (cancer that begins in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids).

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the esophagus.

The esophagus is the hollow, muscular tube that moves food and liquid from the throat to the stomach. The wall of the esophagus is made up of several layers of tissue, including mucous membrane, muscle, and connective tissue. Esophageal cancer starts at the inside lining of the esophagus and spreads outward through the other layers as it grows.

The two most common forms of esophageal cancer are named for the type of cells that become malignant (cancerous):

Read more about Esophageal Cancer

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Positron emission tomography (PET) and PET/CT in oesophageal cancer: Executive summary of final report D06-01H, Version 1.0

The primary goal of the report was to describe the patient-relevant benefit that doctors and patients can expect from PET and PET/CT in the primary staging, restaging and recurrence diagnostics of oesophageal cancer. “Benefit” was understood here to mean the changes that are causally attributed to the use of PET or PET/CT and that have perceptible consequences for the patient.

Systematic review of external beam radiotherapy plus brachytherapy in treatment of patients with inoperable esophageal cancer

Bibliographic details: Luo HT, Wang XH, Wei SH, Tian JH, Yang KH.  Systematic review of external beam radiotherapy plus brachytherapy in treatment of patients with inoperable esophageal cancer. Chinese Journal of Cancer Prevention and Treatment 2010; 17(20): 1665-1668

Surgery versus endoscopic therapies for early oesophageal cancer in Barrett's oesophagus

This Cochrane review has indicated that there are no randomised controlled trials to compare management options in this vital area, therefore trials should be undertaken as a matter of urgency. Current use of endotherapies in the care of patients with early cancer or high‐grade dysplasia of Barrett's oesophagus should be at the recommendation of the multi‐disciplinary team involved in individual care. Properly conducted randomised controlled trials comparing surgery with endotherapies should be conducted before any conclusions can be drawn.

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Summaries for consumers

Esophageal Cancer Screening (PDQ®): Patient Version

Expert-reviewed information summary about tests used to detect or screen for esophageal cancer.

Esophageal Cancer Prevention (PDQ®): Patient Version

Expert-reviewed information summary about factors that may influence the risk of developing esophageal cancer and about research aimed at the prevention of this disease.

Esophageal Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Patient Version

Expert-reviewed information summary about the treatment of esophageal cancer.

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More about Esophageal Cancer

Photo of an adult man

Also called: Oesophageal cancer, Esophageal neoplasm, Cancer of the esophagus, Esophageal carcinoma

Other terms to know:

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For Health Professionals

Keep up with systematic reviews on Esophageal Cancer:


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