At MD Anderson at Cooper, our goal is to provide you with exceptional esophageal cancer care. Our renowned cancer specialists use advanced screening, state-of-the-art diagnostics, and innovative treatments for your care, making MD Anderson at Cooper the leader in esophageal cancer in South Jersey.
Why Choose MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper for Esophageal Cancer
MD Anderson at Cooper provides comprehensive, personalized care that ensures patients move confidently through their cancer treatments. Our experts use advanced diagnostic technologies and offer innovative treatment options. Among many other benefits, choosing MD Anderson at Cooper provides:
- Physicians with extensive experience treating esophageal cancers
- A team approach to treatment that includes physicians, surgeons, nurses and other cancer specialists working together to coordinate your care and expedite your recovery
- Access to clinical trials providing patients with cancer treatment options that may not be available elsewhere
- Enhanced recovery protocols that can help you feel better sooner, before and after esophageal cancer surgery
- Support services ranging from nutritional counseling to behavioral medicine provided before, during, and after your treatments
What Is Esophageal Cancer?
The esophagus or “food pipe” is a hollow, muscular tube that carries food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach. It is located behind the windpipe (trachea). When a person swallows, the wall of the esophagus contracts to push food down into the stomach.
Esophageal cancer occurs when cancer cells form in the tissue of the esophagus. The exact cause is unknown, but an increased risk of developing esophageal cancer is associated with:
- Older age
- Gender (more common in men than women)
- Tobacco use
- Alcohol use
- Reflux disease or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
- Barrett’s esophagus – a condition where long-term reflux of stomach acid causes injury to the esophagus, thereby replacing the normal cells in the esophagus with glandular cells
Cancer develops when cells grow and divide out of control to form a tumor or mass. These cancer cells can invade and destroy the tissue around them. The cancer cells also can spread to other parts of the body. This process of the cancer spreading from the original site of the tumor (esophagus) to other parts of the body is called metastasis. The lymph nodes, liver, lung and bone are the most common areas esophageal cancer may metastasize.
There are two main types of esophageal cancer – squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.
- Squamous cell carcinoma arises in the squamous cells that line the esophagus. It most commonly occurs in the upper and middle part of the esophagus. The major risk factors associated with this type of cancer include a history of smoking and/or alcohol use.
- Adenocarcinomas are cancers that usually form in the glandular tissue of the esophagus, which produces mucus that aids in swallowing. These cancers are most commonly found in the lower part of the esophagus, near the stomach. The major risk factors include GERD and Barrett’s esophagus.
The rates of squamous cell carcinoma rates have been falling while adenocarcinoma has been rising.
What Are the Stages of Esophageal Cancer?
Staging is done to determine the size and location of the tumor and whether it has spread to other places in the body. Staging is necessary in order to plan the appropriate treatment. Your doctor may order a series of tests to help determine the stage of your cancer. All of these tests will be discussed in detail with you.
The following are used to help determine the stage of esophageal cancer:
- Tumor size
- Whether or not the tumor is present in the lymph nodes
- Whether or not the cancer has spread to other parts of the body (metastasized)
There are four stages of esophageal cancer, with Stage IV being the most advanced because it has spread to other parts of the body. The stages of esophageal cancer are:
- Stage 1 – A small tumor (7cm or less) limited to the esophagus
- Stage 2 – A larger tumor still residing within the esophagus and not spreading to lymph nodes or other organs
- Stage 3 – The tumor extends to nearby tissues and issues and may spread the lymph nodes
- Stage 4 – The tumor is any size, has extended beyond the esophagus, and has spread to lymph nodes and other organs (e.g., liver, abdominal cavity)
What Are the Key Statistics of Esophageal Cancer?
The American Cancer Society estimates 19,260 new cases of esophageal cancer in 2021 (15,310 in men and 3,950 in women) and approximately 15,530 deaths from the disease (12,410 in men and 3,120 in women). The disease is three to four times more common among men than women. The lifetime risk of esophageal cancer in the United States is about one in 125 in men and about one in 435 in women. Esophageal cancer is the seventh most common cause of cancer death among men.
Overall, the rates of esophageal cancer in the U.S. have been fairly stable for many years. It was once much more common in African Americans than in Caucasians. Now, however, its occurrence is about equal, with squamous cell carcinoma being more common among African Americans and adenocarcinoma more common in Caucasians.
Esophageal cancer makes up about one percent of all cancers diagnosed in the U.S., but it is much more common in other parts of the world, such as Iran, northern China, India and southern Africa. The main type of esophageal cancer in these areas is squamous cell carcinoma.
Esophageal Cancer Resources
The American Cancer Society estimates 19,260
Make an Appointment with an Esophageal Cancer Specialist
The team at MD Anderson at Cooper can provide you with comprehensive, personalized care for esophageal cancer.