April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month
 
Bergen County news
 

April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month. According to the National Cancer Institute, the esophagus is a muscular tube connecting the throat to the stomach. Esophageal cancer forms in the tissue lining of the esophagus. There are two types of esophageal cancer, squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.

According to federal statistics, an estimated 16,910 people living in the United States were diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2016 and an estimated 15,690 died of the disease, making it one of the deadliest forms of cancer.

Signs and symptoms of esophageal cancer include painful or difficult swallowing, weight loss, pain behind the breastbone, hoarseness and cough, and indigestion and heartburn.

Smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, and Barrett's esophagus can increase a person’s risk of developing esophageal cancer. Other risk factors include older age, being male, and being African-American.

What Is Esophageal Cancer?

The esophagus is a long, muscular tube that connects the stomach to the throat. Esophageal cancer starts in 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 cancerous:

Squamous cell carcinoma: Cancer that forms in squamous cells, the thin, flat cells lining the esophagus. This cancer is most often found in the upper and middle part of the esophagus, but can occur anywhere along the esophagus. This is also called epidermoid carcinoma.

Adenocarcinoma: Cancer that begins in glandular (secretory) cells. Glandular cells in the lining of the esophagus produce and release fluids such as mucus. Adenocarcinomas usually form in the lower part of the esophagus, near the stomach. 

Source: National Cancer Institute