What is esophageal cancer?
Esophageal cancer: what is it?
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What is esophageal cancer?

Esophageal cancer affects muscle tube (2 cm to 3 cm in diameter and 25 cm to 30 cm in length) which connects the larynx (the throat) to the stomach.

Once swallowed, the food entering the esophagus to the stomach and down, driven by muscle contraction of its wall. The input and output of the esophagus are closed by muscle rings that open and close to manage the passage of food.

They are the esophageal sphincter. If the sphincter at the entrance of the stomach does not function well, it can lead to reflux gastroesophageal that will irritate the esophagus. This chronic irritation of the esophagus is the most known factor as a possible cause of esophageal cancer, although there are several other risk factors.

Esophageal cancer is due to the formation of malignant tumor in the tissue of the wall of the esophagus. We distinguish two main types.


Squamous cell carcinoma attacks the cells that line the inner wall of the esophagus (squamous cells). It generally reaches the upper part of the esophagus.

The adenocarcinoma appears more often in the lower part of the esophagus. It attacks the gland cells that produce and secrete mucus and other liquids that contribute to digestion.

Esophageal cancer is a less frequent in Canada: it represents less than 1% of all cancer cases. By cons, it is one of the most lethal because it is often diagnosed at an advanced stage. Less than 1 in 7 people survive more than 5 years after diagnosis. Early detection measures for those at risk can make a big difference. According to the League against Cancer, esophageal cancer affects about 5,000 French each year.

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