What is Cancer?
Cancer is a disease that results from abnormal growth and division of cells that make up the body's tissues and organs. Under normal circumstances, cells reproduce in an orderly fashion to replace old cells, maintain tissue health and repair injuries.
However, when growth control is lost and cells divide too much and too fast, a cellular mass -or "tumor" -is formed.
If the tumor is confined to a few cell layers and it does not invade surrounding tissues or organs, it is considered benign. By contrast, if the tumor spreads to surrounding tissues or organs, it is considered malignant, or cancerous. In order to grow further, a cancer develops its own blood vessels and this process is called angiogenesis. When it first develops, a malignant tumor may be confined to its original site.
If cancerous cells are not treated they may break away from the original tumor, travel, and grow within other body parts, the process is known as metastasis.
Cancer screening is the performance of tests on apparently well people in order to detect a medical condition at an earlier stage.
Click on the below links to find more about the individual cancers.
Esophageal cancer (also called cancer of the esophagus) is a malignant tumor that grows in the lining of the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that carries food from the mouth down into the stomach using a series of muscular movements.
Types of Esophageal Cancer
Two types of cancer, squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma, make up 90 per cent of all esophageal cancers. Esophageal cancer can occur in any section of the esophagus. Most cancers in the top part of the esophagus are squamous cell cancers. They are called this because the cells lining the top part of the esophagus are squamous cells. Squamous means scaly.
Most cancers at the end of the esophagus that joins the stomach are adenocarcinomas. Adenocarcinomas are often found in people who have a condition called Barrett's.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Esophageal cancer manifests with difficulty in swallowing, poor appetite, and weight loss. Many times occurs in patients with prolonged history of acid reflux or in smokers. Family history may also play a role.
For the diagnosis of esophageal cancer an upper endoscopy is necessary to visualize and take a biopsy from the tumor inside of the esophagus. To evaluate the extent of the disease often other tests are done including CT scan, PET scan, endoscopic US and blood tests.
Multiple studies demonstrate that for better results, esophageal cancer needs not only surgical removal of the tumor but also chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In fact, many times these treatments are done prior to surgery.
Surgery when is possible remains still the most important part of treatment. This requires partial or complete removal of the esophagus. A tube is created from the stomach which is brought up into the chest or even the neck replacing the segment of the esophagus which was removed. This is a very complex surgery with potential serious risks and complications.