• Living With Esophageal Cancer

    Managing Your Symptoms

    In most cases the cause of esophageal cancer is unclear but certain factors are known to play a part. These include longstanding acid reflux, alcohol and tobacco. Barrett's esophagus can lead to adenocarcinoma of the esophagus. The disorder is more frequent in old age. In about 5% of individuals with inflammation in the esophagus from acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), the cells at the lower end of the esophagus are replaced by glandular cells resembling those of the stomach and small intestine. This change is referred to as Barrett's esophagus. This disorder is believed to increase the risk of developing esophageal cancer.

    Treatment Options

    Unfortunately, most cancers are too advanced to be cured. Several types of treatment are used for esophageal cancer. Usually, the only curative treatment is surgical removal of the esophagus. Other forms of treatment include chemotherapy, radiotherapy and endoscopic therapy. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy together appear better than either in isolation. Endoscopic treatment is palliative and is intended to relieve the swallowing difficulty. The most commonly used approach is the insertion of a flexible wire sleeve, called a stent, through the narrowed esophagus in order to maintain an open channel. Other forms of endoscopic therapy include laser or electrical burning of the cancer. Photodynamic therapy uses chemicals and light to destroy the abnormal cells on the surface lining, but is used most commonly in Barrett's esophagus.

Enhancing lifelong health

The Canadian Digestive Health Foundation believes our ability to help establish, enrich and protect a healthy gut microbiota is the key to lifelong health