Each and every person who has developed esophageal cancer is wondering for how long he/she will live and whether there is chance to be completely cured. These people undergo a lot of exams and are after staging the disease recommended certain therapies. In some, the disease can be brought under control and they may live for some time peacefully. The disease is, however, recurrent and may return at any time.
Unfortunately, not all patients are that lucky. Some are diagnosed in later stages when the disease has significantly progressed and cancer spread to many organs. The prognosis in such case is not so good and patients may only undergo palliative treatments.
Esophageal Cancer: Stages of the Disease
Esophageal cancer is classified into 4 stages. In initial stages the cancer affects only the organ while later stages are characterized by large tumors infiltrating the nearby tissues and organs. In terminal stage the cancer spreads to other organs in the body.
Stage 0 of esophageal cancer is the best possible stage a person can be diagnosed with. This is actually the mere beginning of tumor development, meaning that cancer affects only the lining of the organ. There are no symptoms and signs of the tumor and the survival rate is great, with 80-90% of all patients surviving 5 year after being diagnosed.
In stage I the cancer affects deeper layers of the esophagus but does not spread to regional lymph nodes and other organs. 34% of all patients with this stage will stay alive for the 5 following years.
Stage II is characterized by the spread of the tumor outside the esophagus. The regional lymph nodes are affected and only 17% of all patients manage to survive for 5 years after being diagnosed.
In stage III esophageal cancer the tumor infiltrates the surrounding tissues. This is the time when patients start experiencing severe problems with swallowing and complain about intensive throat pain. Around 30% of patients who have been treated with radiation therapy and chemotherapy have chance to live at least 3-5 years after being diagnosed.
The end stage of esophageal cancer, stage IV, is characterized by the spread of cancer cells to distant organs in the body. Only 2.8% of patients diagnosed with aggressive treatment may survive 5 years after establishing the diagnosis.
Knowing Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer
Only after the tumor grows to certain size patients may start experiencing symptoms. Painful and difficult swallowing and accompanying weight loss are the initial problems such patients face. These symptoms are reported in stage III and IV.
Progression of the disease is associated with hoarse voice, frequent hiccups and throat pain. One may even vomit blood.
Because of the mentioned people at risk of developing esophageal cancer are supposed to control all the risk factors and adopt healthy lifestyle. Those with illnesses that are associated with the onset of esophageal cancer undergo screening. Only this way the tumor can be diagnosed in early stages and treated more successfully.