According to the data, in the year 2009 there were almost 220,000 patients diagnosed with lung cancer in the United States. This type of cancer can develop at any age but those older than 65 are more prone to it.
Cancer of the esophagus is considered to be one of the most dangerous types of cancer, especially as the experts are still unsure how the treatment plan should look like. Various types of esophageal cancer exist but two types are seen in more than 90% of all cases of this type of cancer.
Lungs and esophageal cancer
Risk factors exist for every type of cancer and it is vital to discover these risk factors. Risk factor is anything that increases the risk of developing cancer. When lung cancer is considered, tobacco smoking is the biggest risk factor as it is the cause of this cancer in a majority of patients. Those who smoke have more chance of developing cancer but those who do not have an increased chance as well due to secondhand smoke. Exposure to radon seriously increases that danger of lung cancer. A person who works in a mine is at most risk from being exposed to this radioactive gas. The problem with radon is that a person is unable to smell, taste or see it. Exposure to asbestos is a serious risk factor for lung cancer. This chemical substance is located in the environment and everyone can inhale it. If one of the family members suffered from lung cancer, the chances of development are higher in other family members.
Lung cancer is divided into two main types, small cell and non-small cell. Small cell lung cancer develops in the bigger airways of the lung and is heavily connected with tobacco consumption. The other form of this type of cancer is actually a group of cancers that are not so different, like adenocarcinomas, squamous cell lung carcinomas and large cell carcinomas. When cancer cells form in the tissues of the esophagus a person is diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Esophagus is an organ that connects the throat and the stomach and its main function is to get the food and the liquids to the stomach. More than one layer of tissue makes up the wall of this organ. Cancer cells first develop in the inside lining of the esophagus.
Squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma are the two types of esophageal cancer that occur most often. The first type is usually seen in the upper and middle part of the organ but it can develop anywhere along the esophagus. Adenocarcinoma develops in glandular cells and when the cancer cells are discovered, they are in the lower part of the organ, close to the stomach.
Tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption are the risk factors of cancer of the esophagus that a person can influence. Old age, being male and being African-American cannot be influenced but also increase the risk of cancer of the esophagus. Barrett syndrome is an often seen risk factor of this type of cancer as well.
The problem with esophageal cancer is that the symptoms are often seen in various other diseases and that is why doctors have so much trouble diagnosing it. Weight loss and problems with swallowing are the two signs that occur most often. Apart from them, pain behind the breastbone, cough, hoarseness, heartburn and indigestion can be seen as well.
Before coming up with a treatment plan for esophageal cancer a proper diagnosis needs to be made first. The doctors usually perform a physical exam and order certain tests like chest x-ray and barium swallow.
Tomotherapy is a new method for cancer treatment
When the cancer of the esophagus is diagnosed, the doctor will come up with the best possible treatment plan. Several factors like the stage of the cancer, the size of the tumor and the general health of the patient are taken into consideration. Surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are the usual options in case of esophageal cancer. However, a new method of delivering radiation therapy called tomotherapy emerged.
Tomotherapy can deliver radiation therapy more precise than any other technology. The main reason why that is so, is because this method betters the accuracy of the treatment due to the fact that the tissue that is being targeted is imaged before the start of the treatment with extreme speed and made quite small. If any of the internal organs moves during the treatment it can be adjusted in a matter of seconds.
The machine that produces the rays has tiny beamlets. The machine turns on when it points to the cancerous tissue but it turns off when it points to healthy tissue. The benefits gained from this type of cancer treatment are plenty. Due to the accuracy of the machine and the fact that the healthy tissue is not so much exposed, there are not that many side effects.