Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal Cancer Care in Brevard County

Esophageal cancer is a disease that occurs in the esophagus, which is the long, muscular tube that moves food and liquid from the throat to the stomach. The esophagus wall has several layers of tissue, including mucous membrane, muscle, and connective tissue. Esophageal cancer starts on the inside lining of the esophagus and spreads outward through the other layers as it grows.

There are two primary types of esophageal cancer:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma: Also called epidermoid carcinoma, this cancer forms in the thin, flat cells lining the inside of the esophagus. This cancer is most often found in the upper and middle part of the esophagus, but can occur anywhere along the esophagus.

  • Adenocarcinoma: Cancer begins in glandular cells that produce and release fluids such as mucus. Adenocarcinomas usually form in the lower part of the esophagus, near the stomach.


Understanding Esophageal Cancer

Our esophageal cancer specialists are dedicated to helping patients throughout Brevard County - including Melbourne, Palm Bay, and Merritt Island, Florida.

Take a look at the information here to better understand cancer of the esophagus.

Signs and Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer

Early esophageal cancer typically doesn’t cause signs or symptoms. When signs or symptoms do occur, people may experience:

  • Trouble swallowing (dysphagia)

  • Indigestion or heartburn

  • Frequent choking on food

  • Hoarseness and cough

  • Pain, pressure, or burning in the chest

  • Unexpected or unexplained weight loss

Remember, many of these symptoms can occur even if no cancer is present. In many cases, they are due to some other condition. However, this can only be confirmed with an examination. If you experience these symptoms – especially if they recur or persist for more than two weeks – see your doctor so they can help determine the cause.

Causes, Risk Factors, and Reducing Risk of Esophageal Cancer

The exact cause of esophageal cancer is unknown. Esophageal cancer occurs when cells in the esophagus develop changes, known as mutations, in their DNA. These mutations make cells grow and divide out of control, eventually forming a tumor in the esophagus that can grow to invade nearby structures and spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver or lungs.

With that said certain risk factors increase your risk of developing esophageal cancer. These risk factors can include:

  • Tobacco use

  • Heavy alcohol use

  • Obesity

  • Being male (men are three times more likely to develop the disease compared to women)

  • Being between the ages of 45 and 70

  • Excessive drinking of very hot liquids

  • Undergoing radiation treatment to the chest or upper abdomen

  • Having acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

  • Having difficulty swallowing due to achalasia, a condition where an esophageal sphincter won’t relax

  • Having precancerous changes in the cells of the esophagus (Barrett’s esophagus)

If you have known risk factors, there are some steps you can take to help lower the chance of acquiring the disease, which include:

  • Quitting smoking

  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption

  • Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet

  • Exercise to maintain a healthy weight

Find Esophageal Cancer Care in Brevard County

Cancer Care Centers of Brevard offer a team-oriented approach to providing patients with the best possible care. Our care team explains the facts and answers questions at every step. If you or a loved one has received a diagnosis of esophageal cancer and are seeking treatment or a second opinion in the Brevard County area, request an appointment with one of our oncologists.