Oesophageal Cancer

Oesophageal cancer arises from the uncontrolled division of cells of the oesophagus. There are two major types namely squamous (90%) and adenocarcinoma (10%). Squamous cell cancer arises from the cells that line the majority of the oesophagus. Adenocarcinoma arises from glandular cells that line the junction of the oesophagus and the stomach. Symptoms associated with oesophageal cancer include dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), pain (odynophagia). Small tumours localised to the oesophagus are treated surgically with the intention to cure the patient. Larger tumours tend not to be operable and therefore therapy is aimed at the reduction of symptoms. Treatment in this setting can include chemotherapy, radiotherapy or the placement of a stent in order to facilitate swallowing. In some cases chemo- and radiotherapy can shrink these larger tumours making them operable.