The faculty of making stupid discoveries by accident. The name of my first Fantasy Football Team. Neither of which have anything to do with this blog. I just like the word. Deal with it !!!!!!


This information is from the People Living with Cancer website (all copyrights held by them).

(Any information you see like this is information that I have learned over the last 4 years from various sources, mainly EC patients, survivors and caregivers.)

The esophagus is a 10 inch, hollow, muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach. When a person swallows, the walls of the esophagus contract to push food down into the stomach. Esophageal cancer (also called esophagus cancer) begins when cells in the lining of the esophagus grow uncontrollably and eventually form tumors.

Cancer of the esophagus begins in the inner layer of the esophageal wall and grows outward. If it metastasizes (spreads) through the esophageal wall, it can invade lymph nodes, blood vessels in the chest, and other nearby organs. Esophageal cancer can also spread to the lungs, liver, stomach, and other parts of the body.

There are two types of esophageal cancer: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma arises in squamous cells that line the esophagus. This type of cancer usually develops in the upper and middle part of the esophagus. Adenocarcinoma begins in the glandular tissue in the lower part of the esophagus at the junction between the esophagus and the stomach. Treatment is similar for both types.


In 2006, approximately 14,550 new cases (11,260 men and 3,290 women) of esophageal cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and an estimated 13,770 people (10,730 men and 3,040 women) will die of the disease. Esophageal cancer is three to four times more common among men than women (this is changing at a rapid rate).Esophageal cancer is the seventh most common cause of cancer death among men. The overall five-year relative survival rate (the percentage of patients who survive at least five years after the cancer is detected, excluding those who die from other diseases) of people with esophageal cancer is 15%.( EC is now the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths as of 2008.  Stats for Canada run about 10% of the U.S. stats.  Aprroximately 1400 people will be diagnosed and approximately 1100 will die.)
Cancer statistics should be interpreted with caution. These estimates are based on data from thousands of cases of this type of cancer in the United States each year, but the actual risk for a particular individual may differ. It is not possible to tell a person how long he or she will live with esophageal cancer. Because the survival statistics are measured in five-year (or sometimes one-year) intervals, they may not represent advances made in the treatment or diagnosis of this cancer. 

These survival statistics also combine people with advanced metastatic esophageal cancer with people whose cancer is limited to the esophagus. People whose cancer has not metastasized are likely to have a higher survival rate compared with those with more advanced disease.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society’s publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2006.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of developing a disease, including cancer. There are risk factors that can be controlled, such as smoking, and risk factors that cannot be controlled, such as age and family history. Although risk factors can influence disease, for many risk factors it is not known whether they actually cause the disease directly. Some people with several risk factors never develop the disease, while others with no known risk factors do. Knowing your risk factors and communicating with your doctor can help guide you in making wise lifestyle and health-care choices.

The exact cause of esophageal cancer is still unknown. The following factors can raise a person’s risk of developing esophageal cancer:

Age. People between the ages of 45 and 70 are at greatest risk.(What was usually referred to as “an old man’s disease” has shifted.  Now, many people at the lower age of the age spectrum are being diagnosed instead of the higher end of the spectrum.)

Sex. Men are nearly three times more likely than women to develop esophageal cancer.(Again, this has changed dramatically, perhaps due to lifestyle changes.)

Race. Blacks are nearly three times more likely than whites to develop squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus.

Tobacco. Using any form of tobacco raises the risk of esophageal cancer.  (As it does any type of cancer).

Alcohol. Long-term, heavy drinking increases the risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus, especially when combined with tobacco use.

Squamous cell carcinoma was once the leading type of Esophageal Cancer.  That paradigm has now shifted and Adenocarcinoma is now the leading type of Esophageal Cancer.  The  reason for the change from one type to the other is not really known but has been thought to be due to lifestyle changes among the population.  More and more people, both men and women suffer from Acid Reflux and GERD than ever before.  Because of this more and more people rely on Antacids (e.g. Rolaids) and prescribed medications (e.g. Nexium) which do little more than mask the possibilty of something more seriously wrong than simple “heartburn” such as:

Barrett’s esophagus. This condition can develop in some people who have chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus). Damage to the lining of the esophagus causes abnormal changes in cells. People with Barrett’s esophagus are more likely to develop adenocarcinoma of the esophagus.

Diet. A diet that is low in fruits and vegetables and certain vitamins and minerals can increase a person’s risk of developing esophageal cancer.

Obesity. Being severely overweight and having an excess of body fat can increase a person’s risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma.

Lye ingestion. Lye ingestion by children is associated with an increase in squamous cell carcinoma.

Achalasia. The condition achalasia, characterized by reduced motility leading to structuring and dilation of the esophagus, increases the risk of squamous cell carcinoma.


Cancer of the esophagus is most curable when it is diagnosed early. Because early esophageal cancer causes few symptoms, it is often more advanced when the diagnosis is made.

People with esophageal cancer may experience the following symptoms. Sometimes, people with esophageal cancer do not show any of these symptoms. Or, these symptoms may be similar to symptoms of other medical conditions.

Difficulty swallowing, particularly when eating meat, bread, or raw vegetables (As the tumor grows it can block the pathway to the stomach. Even liquid may be painful to swallow.)

Pressure or burning in the chest

Indigestion or heartburn


Frequent choking on food

Weight loss

Coughing or hoarseness

Pain behind the breastbone or in the throat

If you or anyone you care about suffers from any of these symptoms on a constant basis, please see your Doctor.  Only they are Proffessionally qualified to make a medical diagnosis.



One response to “EC INFO

  1. serendopeity January 14, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    Statistics Update from the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s 2008 annual report.

    Cancer trends and death rates.

    Esophageal cancer still remains on an upward swing in the 2008 data. There were 16, 470 estimated new cases in 2008 and there were sadly, 14,280 estimated deaths. Only pancreatic cancer with 37, 680 new cases and 34,290 deaths had a higher mortality rate. Liver cancer is a very close third with with 21,370 new cases in 2008 and 18,410 deaths, only a few tenths of percentage points behind esophageal cancer.
    On a more positive note, the 5 year survival rate for esophageal cancer has risen from 5% in 1975-77 to 16% in 1996-2003. That is a very positive trend and points to the progress and improvements in surgery outcomes over 20 years.

    The report did not break down the data by stage of tumor, but should be on the NCI website shortly, if not already, since this is based upon federal data.


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