Facts About the Esophagus

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The esophagus is an eight-inch-long muscular tube connecting the throat (pharynx) with the stomach. The esophagus is located behind the windpipe (trachea) and heart in front of the spine. It passes through the diaphragm before entering the stomach.

Fact 1. At the upper end of the esophagus is a bundle of muscles which is used for breathing, eating, belching, and vomiting. Heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), esophagitis, Barrett’s esophagus, esophageal ulcers are some of the effects of a malfunctioning esophagus.

Fact 2.  Difficulty and discomfort when swallowing are symptoms of esophageal blockages, muscular and neurological problems, spasms, and infections.

Fact 3.  Esophageal cancers do not have obvious symptoms until they have reached an advanced stage when it is harder to treat.

Fact 4. The most common symptom of esophageal cancer is problems with swallowing known as dysphagia which occurs at a late stage of the cancer.

Fact 5.  Other symptoms of cancer of the esophagus include: hoarseness, chronic cough, hiccups, pneumonia, bone pain, and bleeding.

Fact 6. Imaging tests using X-rays, magnetic fields, sound waves, and radioactive substances can be done to diagnose esophageal cancer.

Fact 7. A barium swallow test will be able to show irregularities in the surface of the lining of the esophagus and be able to detect early signs of cancer.

Fact 8.  The five-year survival rate for those diagnosed with esophageal cancer without any nodal involvement is 38 percent.

Fact 9. Esophageal cancer is one of the rarest cancers in Western countries.  However, in the last decade, the incidents of such cancer have doubled, affecting more men.  An estimated 11,300 of the 13,400 people diagnosed with esophageal cancer die annually.

Fact 10. The primary causes of esophageal cancer include: smoking, tobacco consumption, and alcohol. Those suffering from GERD are more prone to develop esophageal cancer. HIV also increases the chances of contracting this cancer.

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One Response

  1. Rocco Thrash

    June 15, 2013 11:19 am

    Esophageal cancers are typically carcinomas which arise from the epithelium, or surface lining, of the esophagus. Most esophageal cancers fall into one of two classes: squamous cell carcinomas, which are similar to head and neck cancer in their appearance and association with tobacco and alcohol consumption, and adenocarcinomas, which are often associated with a history of gastroesophageal reflux disease and Barrett’s esophagus. `:’.

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