Esophageal Cancer

About: Cancer can develop in any part of the body and occurs when the body’s cells begin to grow in excess.  When too many cells are created, they crowd out the normal cells, creating cancer.  Esophageal cancer occurs in the esophagus, the hollow narrow tube that connects the throat to the stomach. The esophagus is about 10 to 13 inches in length and about ¾ inches in diameter across its smallest point. Cancer can develop anywhere along the full length of the esophagus, and often starts at the epithelium, the innermost layer of the esophagus, and works its way to the outer layer.

There are two main types of esophageal cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma.  Squamous cell carcinoma develops in the inner layer of the esophagus, and most commonly in the neck and upper two-thirds of the chest. Adenocarcinoma develops in gland cells and is more commonly found in the lower-third region of the esophagus.

Thoracic surgeons are also able to remove gastroesophageal (GE) junction tumors, which develop in the area that joins the esophagus and stomach, the GE junction.  Lymphomas, melanomas, and sarcomas are other, less common forms of esophageal cancers.