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About Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer is cancer that develops in the esophagus, the muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach. The esophagus, located just behind the trachea, is about 10 to 13 inches in length and allows food to enter the stomach for digestion. The wall of the esophagus is made up of several layers and cancers generally start from the inner layer and grow out.

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 18,000 Americans will be newly diagnosed with esophageal cancer each year, resulting in more than 15,000 deaths.

What causes esophageal cancer?

No one knows exactly what causes esophageal cancer. At the top of the esophagus is a muscle, called a sphincter, that releases to let food or liquid go through. The lower part of the esophagus is connected to the stomach. Another sphincter muscle is located at this connection that opens to allow the food to enter the stomach. This muscle also works to keep food and juices in the stomach from backing into the esophagus. When these juices do back up, reflux, commonly known as heartburn, occurs.

Long-term gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can change the cells in the lower end of the esophagus. This condition is known as Barrett's esophagus. If these cells are not treated, they are at much higher risk of developing into cancer cells.

Learn more about esophageal cancer now.

Call 770.214.CARE now for a referral to a gastroenterology specialist.

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