Esophageal cancer occurs in the esophagus, the long tube through which food is pushed down your throat and into your stomach. This form of cancer can appear anywhere in the esophagus, though it more commonly starts in the cells lining the esophagus. Esophageal cancer is also more prominent in men than women and remains the sixth most common cancer-related cause of death in the world.
Esophageal cancer is categorized based on the cells it affects. The most common type of esophageal cancer in the U.S., adenocarcinoma affects the cells of the mucus-secreting glands in the esophagus and typically starts in the lower part of the esophagus. Squamous cell carcinoma – Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common form of esophageal cancer worldwide and affects the linings of the esophagus, most often in the upper and middle portions of the esophagus.
Causes and Risk Factors
All forms of cancer come from genetic mutations that cause the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells, which accumulate and eventually form tumors that may spread to other parts of the body.
The exact cause of this mutation is unknown, but there are certain factors known to increase your risk of getting the disease. One of the most widely known contributors to esophageal cancer is smoking, which introduces tobacco and other carcinogens into your throat and esophagus.
Chronic irritation of the esophagus can also contribute to cellular changes that may result in esophageal cancer. This is often why conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and Barrett’s esophagus are common risk factors of esophageal cancer. GERD is a chronic digestive condition that results in persistent acid reflux, during which stomach acids may travel up into the esophagus, resulting in irritation and heartburn.
Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging
In its early stages, esophageal cancer may not present any noticeable symptoms. As the cancer spreads and progresses, some common signs and symptoms may include:
- Problems swallowing (dysphagia)
- Unintended weight loss
- Pressure, pain, or burning in the chest
- Indigestion or heartburn
- Persistent hoarseness or coughing
Diagnosis may rely on various tests. This often includes an endoscopy, during which the oncologists pass a flexible tube equipped with a video lens into your esophagus. The doctor can search your esophagus for cancer and other areas of irritation or abnormality. The doctor may also be able to take a tissue sample (biopsy) using the endoscope. This sample is then sent to a lab for further analysis.
The oncologists use information from these tests to determine the stage of your esophageal cancer. There are five stages (0 to IV) with higher numbers designating cancer that has advanced and spread to other organs or parts of the body.
About Alternative/Natural Treatment of Esophageal Cancer
Typical treatments for the disease in cancer patients include surgery to remove the tumor or part of the esophagus as well as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. While these treatments may be effective and kill cancer cells, they often come at the price of negative side effects. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy, in particular, can cause damage to healthy tissue. With alternative treatments, you can mitigate any negative side effects and support your continued recovery through natural solutions that will not hurt your body.
At Immunity Therapy Center, you can find a wide range of alternative esophageal treatment options for your esophageal cancer. Our team is committed to developing attentive care and personalized treatment plans and helping you choose options that work based on your personal preferences, cancer stage, and health needs. Regular one-on-one consultations with Dr. Bautista help to guide your treatment and allow for adjustments to your program as necessary. Our focus is on personal attention and relationships, ensuring that you are treated as a human being and not a chart or diagnosis. Contact us today to learn more or to receive a custom treatment plan.