Esophageal cancer

What is esophageal cancer?
Esophageal cancer is cancer of the esophagus, the muscular tube in which food passes through from your mouth down into your stomach.

What causes esophageal cancer?
No exact cause of esophageal cancer is known, but several factors have been identified that may increase the chances of developing the disease: 
• Advanced age
• A diet low in vital nutrients found in fruits and vegetables
• Smoking, especially heavy smoking
• Heavy consumption of alcohol
• Acid reflux – over time, severe and chronic acid reflux can damage the lining of the esophagus, which may lead to cancer
• Obesity

Having one or more of these risk factors does not mean that a person will definitely get esophagus cancer.

What are the symptoms of esophagus?
• Difficulty or pain when swallowing
• Pain in the chest or back
• Getting food stuck in the esophagus
• Heartburn
• Change in voice, or experiencing a hoarseness in voice that lasts several weeks
• Persistent cough that does not go away
• Unexplained decreased appetite and weight loss

How is esophageal cancer diagnosed?
At KHCC, a variety of diagnostic techniques are used to accurately detect and stage esophageal cancer including:
• Complete blood count (CBC) test
• Endoscopy - at King Hussein Cancer Center, a specialized gastroenterologist with extensive experience performs endoscopies to detect any signs of esophageal cancer
• Endoscopic ultrasounds for more precise assessment of the tumor
• Biopsy to remove a tissue sample from the esophagus and examine it under a microscope to detect any abnormalities
• CT scan or MRI of the chest, abdomen and pelvis to assess whether the disease has spread to other areas of the body
• Whole body PET scan: which is a nuclear test that is used to assess the extent of disease
 
How is esophageal cancer treated at KHCC?
The treating physician will present the case to the MDC panel who will determine the right treatment for the patient depending on how much the cancer has spread throughout the body.
Surgery is usually the first form of treatment in patients with early stage esophageal cancer. Depending on the stage of the cancer, most patients require some form of surgery to remove the tumor in addition to chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Physicians
At KHCC, esophageal cancer patients receive top quality care through a multidisciplinary team of specialists highly experienced in treating esophageal cancer and other gastrointestinal tumors

Supportive Care
The gastrointestinal multidisciplinary clinic works in close cooperation with other departments at KHCC so that esophageal cancer patients receive the most comprehensive care possible. Supportive care services at KHCC include:
• For patients who have to have temporary or permanent colostomies, a stoma team is on hand to counsel them and show them how to use colostomy pouches.