There are several esophageal cancer treatment methods.
As the name suggests the Esophageal cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the esophagus.
This disease starts initially in the inner layer of the esophagus which is the 10-inch long tube that connects throat and stomach.
There are two main types of esophageal cancer which are termed as the squamous cell carcinoma and the adenocarcinoma. The former type is found in the squamous cells of the esophagus.
The later type of esophageal cancer arises in the glandular cells of the esophagus. Before knowing the various esophageal cancer treatment methods, let us first know the causes of esophageal cancer.
Causes of Esophageal Cancer
Although the exact cause of esophageal cancer is not known, many factors are identified that can damage DNA in the esophagus which may lead to esophageal cancer. These factors include:
- Excess consumption of alcohol
- Smoking or use of tobacco
- A condition called chronic acid reflux which leads to Barrett’s esophagus. In this stage the cells have a high potency to develop into malignant forms
- Gastroesophageal reflux is the most common cause of esophageal adenocarcinomas. The reasons behind the reflux problems are smoking, obesity and a diet with high sodium content.
- Research say that exposure to silica dust may be the cause of esophageal cancer.
- Improper diet meaning diet low in fruits and vegetables appears to contribute to esophageal cancer.
Types of Esophageal Cancer Treatment Methods
Esophageal cancer Treatment depends on the type, location and stage of cancer as well as on the age, overall health and personal preferences of the patient.
There are various other esophageal cancer treatment methods apart from the standard surgery, chemotherapy and the radiation therapy to help slow the effect of the symptoms (Esophageal Cancer Symptoms) of the disease, to control the spread of the disease and increase the life span of the patient and give a better life to live is the aim of esophageal cancer treatment. Majority of the time the combination treatments work well for better cure.
Surgery is the most common Esophageal cancer treatment, either as a therapy for the cancer itself or as a way to relieve symptoms, especially difficult swallowing. Surgery is also recommended if abnormal cells are very consistent and occurring with Barrett’s esophagus.
Depending on the nature of the esophageal cancer, the operation may be performed in one of two ways like the Esophagectomy the surgery in which the stomach is not involved, only a portion of the esophagus is removed and the other type being the Esophagogastrectomy in which the part of the esophagus is removed along with the nearby lymph nodes and the upper part of the stomach as well. This method is opted in advanced disease case.
Esophageal Cancer Treatment with Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is of two types the systemic and the regional chemotherapy. The former one is a process in which the drugs are administered either orally or through the muscle or vein which carry the drug to the entire body through the bloodstream.
The later is administered into the spinal column, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen so that the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas.
Either chemotherapy may help to shrink the tumor if given before surgery along with the radiation therapy when surgery may not be possible to perform or also given after surgery to relieve symptoms as well in advanced cases. In some cases chemotherapy may be given before and after surgery as well according to needs and condition and the stage of the cancer.
Esophageal Cancer Treatment with Radiation Therapy
Most common type of radiation therapy used in combination with chemotherapy is the external radiation given five days a week for five to seven weeks. This method of esophageal cancer treatment helps in helping the patient in improving the swallowing process.
This method of esophageal cancer treatment results in side effects but these aren’t permanent and get diminished as time goes by.