Information on Oesophageal Cancer:
The causes of oesophageal cancer
Oesophageal cancer is quite rare in the UK. Consequently the exact causes are not known. However, Scientists have found that it is much more common in older people, particularly men.
It is also thought that poor diet and conditions such as chronic acid reflux (repeated surging of the stomach contents into the oesophagus) can increase your risk of oesophageal cancer.
The symptoms of oesophageal cancer
The following symptoms may indicate the presence of oesophageal cancer:
- Having difficulty swallowing.
- A feeling that food is sticking on its way down to the stomach.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Pain or discomfort in the throat, behind the breast bone or in the upper back.
- Persistent acid indigestion.
- Persistent cough.
The symptoms mentioned above can be caused by a number of medical conditions other than cancer, but if you are experiencing any of the above you should contact your doctor immediately.
Methods of diagnosis
Having taken your medical history and conducted a physical examination, your doctor may wish to conduct the following tests:
- Barium swallow – This is where an X-ray of the oesophagus is taken with the aid of barium – a substance which shows up clearly on the x-ray.
- Endoscopy/oesophagoscopy – Using an endoscope, your doctor can examine the oesophagus for any abnormalities. During this procedure a biopsy can be taken if there are any signs of oesophageal cancer.