Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month: Let’s Talk Risk Factors, Treatment, and Support

April 15, 2021
A father holds his infant son in his arms and kisses his cheek

 

Did you know that April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month? The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 19,000 esophageal cancer cases will be diagnosed in the United States in 2021. Among the U.S. population, about 1 in 125 men faces a lifetime risk of this cancer. For women, the risk is about 1 in 417.

 

What are the risk factors for esophageal cancer?

There are several risk factors involved in esophageal cancer. Higher risk groups include those with tobacco and heavy alcohol use, older adults, males, and African Americans. Also, if a patient already has Barrett’s esophagus, they are at higher risk for esophageal cancer. Barrett’s esophagus is a condition in which the cells lining the lower part of the esophagus have changed or been replaced with abnormal cells that could lead to cancer of the esophagus. Gastric reflux may irritate the esophagus and cause Barrett’s esophagus.

 

How does cancer affect the esophagus?

The esophagus is the muscular tube that moves food and liquid from the throat to the stomach. The wall of the esophagus is made up of several layers of tissue, including a mucous membrane, muscle, and connective tissue. Esophageal cancer starts at the inside lining of the esophagus and spreads outward through the layers of the esophagus as it grows.

Polenta With Fruit Compote
Try our recipe for Polenta With Fruit Compote. It's a smooth and flavorful breakfast for cancer patients that blends sweet maple syrup with tart berries.

What treatments are available for esophageal cancer?

Different treatment options are available for patients with esophageal cancer. Some treatments are standard, and some are being tested in clinical trials. Surgery is the most common treatment for cancer of the esophagus. However, in all cases, treatment should be individualized for you. Although cancers are classified into particular stages, each person is unique. Get more details about diagnosis, staging, and treatment options for esophageal cancer.

 

Where can I find resources to cope with esophageal cancer?

If you are living with esophageal cancer or are a caregiver to someone with esophageal cancer, the Cancer Support Community offers a variety of resources to help ease the burden of your journey.

The Cancer support Community believes that community is stronger than cancer. We are a relentless ally for anyone who strives to manage the realities of this disruptive disease, so that no one faces cancer alone. Be sure to check our blog section often as we share more news, stories, and inspiration to help support you on your journey.