Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer occurs in the esophagus. The esophagus is the long, hollow tube that runs from your throat to your stomach. The purpose of the esophagus is to help move the food you eat from your mouth to your stomach where it will be digested.

Esophageal cancer usually forms in the cells that line the esophagus. Esophageal cancer can occur anywhere along the esophagus. This type of cancer is seen more in men than in women.

Esophageal cancer is the sixth most common cause of cancer deaths worldwide.


Signs and symptoms of esophageal cancer include:

Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
Weight loss
Chest pain, pressure or burning
Worsening indigestion or heartburn
Coughing or hoarseness


Types of Esophageal Cancer

The two most common types of esophageal cancer are Adenocarcinoma and Squamous cell carcinoma.

Adenocarcinoma. Adenocarcinoma begins in the cells of mucus-secreting glands in the esophagus. Adenocarcinoma occurs most often in the lower portion of the esophagus. Adenocarcinoma is the most common form of esophageal cancer in the United States, and it affects primarily white men.
Squamous cell carcinoma. The squamous cells are flat, thin cells that line the surface of the esophagus. Squamous cell carcinoma occurs most often in the upper and middle portions of the esophagus. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most prevalent esophageal cancer worldwide.
Other rare types. Some rare forms of esophageal cancer include small cell carcinoma, sarcoma, lymphoma, melanoma and choriocarcinoma.