According to Dr Purnendu Bhowmik, an esophageal cancer surgery doctor in Kolkata, esophageal cancer, as the name suggests, occurs in the esophagus, a tube-like structure connecting the throat and stomach. The esophagus transports food from the mouth to the stomach.
Most warning indications of esophageal cancer are associated with issues related to eating, drinking, swallowing and digestion. In most cases, esophageal cancer doesn’t generate signs until it has reached an advanced stage.
Esophageal Cancer Risk Factors
Factors that can increase the chances of esophageal cancer include:
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Chronic heartburn or acid reflux
- Gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Barrett’s esophagus, a condition that sometimes forms in people with GERD
Esophageal Cancer Warning Signs
According to the esophageal cancer surgery doctor in Kolkata, most esophageal cancer patients start showing signs only when cancer gets to advanced stages. Many of these warning signs can be misinterpreted as these are also caused by other common conditions. It is essential to receive an accurate diagnosis from a physician if one suspects they are at risk.
The most typical warning sign of esophageal cancer is difficulty swallowing, especially a feeling of food stuck in the throat. Some patients may also choke on their food. These signs slowly worsen over time, increasing pain on swallowing as the esophagus narrows due to growing cancer.
A person who has recently changed their eating habits to avoid trouble swallowing, such as taking smaller bites, eating softer food, or avoiding solid food entirely, should consult a doctor as soon as possible.
Some patients encounter chest pain a few seconds after swallowing when food or liquid reach the cancer site in the esophagus, says the esophageal cancer surgery doctor in Kolkata.
Weight Loss Without Trying
Approximately 50% of people with esophageal cancer experience weight loss without trying. Weight loss can occur as patients start eating less due to difficulties in swallowing or due to a decreased appetite because of growing cancer.
Persistent Coughing or Hoarseness
Having a hoarse voice or a cough that does not go away can also signify esophageal cancer.
How Is Esophageal Cancer Diagnosed?
The doctor will review the patient’s signs and medical history to diagnose esophageal cancer. In addition, they can do some tests to diagnose the condition. Tests for esophageal cancer may include:
Barium swallow X-ray
During this test, the patient drinks a liquid that coats the esophagus. This makes the esophagus visible on the X-ray so that the doctor can identify specific problems.
During this examination, the doctor passes an endoscope, a thin, lighted tube, down the throat into the esophagus to inspect it. Endoscopic ultrasound uses sound waves to show details about the extent of tumour involvement in nearby tissues, says the esophageal cancer treatment doctor in Kolkata.
The doctor can take cells or tissue from the esophagus during an endoscopy. The cells are studied under a microscope to determine the presence of cancer.
In order to determine if cancer has spread or metastasized outside the esophagus, other tests can be performed, including computed tomography (CT) scans, positron emission tomography (PET) scans, and laparoscopies.
Consult Dr Purnendu Bhowmik, an esophageal cancer doctor in Kolkata, for more details.