Prevention and early detection of all conditions that may lead to esophageal cancer is the best way to deal with this disease. Esophageal cancer may affect any part of this organ and cause malignant proliferation. Depending on the location of the cancer and type of the cells that create this cancer, there are squamous cell esophageal cancer and adenocarcinoma of the esophagus.
Different Types of Esophageal Cancer
Adenocarcinoma of the esophagus is the most common type of esophageal cancer in the United States (US). This cancer is known to develop in the portion of the esophagus near the stomach (lower esophagus). Patients suffering from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) are found to be likely to develop this type of cancer, because of the damage done to the esophageal lining by excess stomach acid. Many of GERD patients develop Barrett’s esophagus, premalignant condition which may progress and cause esophageal cancer.
Squamous cell esophageal cancer is not frequent in the US, but more likely to be diagnosed in other countries. This cancer may affect any part of the esophageal lining.
There are also some other types of esophageal cancer, such as lymphoma, sarcoma, small cell carcinoma and spindle cell carcinoma, but these appear very rarely. However, some people may develop esophageal cancer due to spread of cancer cells from tumors affecting other organs in the body, especially the lungs or breast. Cancerous cells can travel through the blood and reach the esophagus, provoking esophageal cancer, but these cases are also very rare.
Are All Esophageal Cancers Similar?
Yes, even though two people may have different types of esophageal cancers, these conditions are similar. Patients usually have similar symptoms and the course of treatment is also the same. Talking about esophageal cancers and their cells, both adenocarcinoma and squamous cell esophageal cancers start in top layers of the inner lining and then start to spread into deeper tissues and nearby lymph nodes and organs.
The main differences are found among people susceptible to these types of cancers. Adenocarcinoma is commonly diagnosed in Caucasians, but also in some African Americans. Overweight and obesity increase the risk for this type of esophageal cancer.
Squamous cell cancer, on the other hand, is frequently diagnosed in African Americans. According to some studies, smoking, use of tobacco and alcohol, as well as drinking hot beverages may increase the risk of developing squamous cell cancer of the esophagus. People who have been diagnosed to suffer from Barrett’s esophagus are also very likely to develop this type of esophageal cancer sometime later in their life.