Esophageal Cancer Treatment Center
Esophageal or esophagus cancer is a malignancy that starts or develops in the inner lining of the esophagus. The esophagus, also known as the gullet, is a muscular tube that runs from the back of the throat to the stomach. Its primary function is to channel food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach after swallowing.
Statistically, esophageal cancer is more prevalent in men than in women. In the U.S., the disease occurs in about eight men and two women in a population of 100,000. Esophageal cancer is among the most common and dangerous cancers of the GI tract. Due to this cancer’s aggressive nature, it has a relatively poor prognosis with a 5-year relative survival rate of 20.6%.
How Does Esophageal Cancer Form?
The esophagus is made up of four layers of tissue and muscle. The innermost layer is called the mucosa; this is followed by the submucosa, muscularis, and finally, the outermost layer called the tunica adventitia.
The mucosa comprises flat squamous cells like those found in the skin's epidermis. It forms a smooth, lubricated lining that facilitates the movement of food material down the esophagus. The lubricating mucus is produced by granular cells in the submucosa layer. Besides the mucus, the glandular cells also secrete bicarbonates to balance the gullet's PH.
There are two main types of esophageal cancer: one that affects the squamous cells and another that originates in the glandular cells.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
Also called epidermoid carcinoma, this type of cancer starts in the squamous cells. It usually forms in the upper and middle parts of the esophagus. Most SCCs are caused by a condition known as dysplasia, where mature squamous cells divide rapidly and uncontrollably. The cancer starts off as a small non-malignant plaque that can grow aggressively over a short period.
SCC is the more prevalent of the two types of esophageal cancers. Its incidence and mortality increase with age, peaking in men over 70 years old. People of color, particularly Blacks, are four times more susceptible to the disease than Whites.
Adenocarcinoma typically forms in the lower third of the esophagus near the lower esophageal sphincter. The malignancy begins in the mucus-secreting cells of the submucosa. The disease is more common in White men over the age of 70 years.
Adenocarcinoma is mainly caused by Barrett’s esophagus, a condition where glandular cells in the lower esophagus gradually morph into epithelial cells following damage caused by repeated acid reflux from the stomach.
What Causes Esophageal Cancer?
Like most cancers, little is known about esophageal cancer's exact or fundamental cause. However, research and clinical studies have linked the disease to several risk factors. These are the known factors that might increase your chances of getting esophagus cancer:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) – This is the most common risk factor for esophageal cancer, specifically adenocarcinoma. GERD is a condition wherein acid from the stomach repeatedly flows back into the lower esophagus. GERD may lead to Barrett’s esophagus and, ultimately, cancer.
- Heavy alcohol consumption and smoking – As tobacco smoke and alcohol make their way down the esophagus, and they can cause damage and inflammation to both squamous and glandular cells, increasing the risk of SCC and adenocarcinoma.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections – Some strains of HPV are known to attack squamous cells in various parts of the body (including those in the esophagus), triggering precancerous dysplasia.
- Stomach infections and diseases – Some gastric-related issues, such as Helicobacter pylori infections and chronic atrophic gastritis, can increase your susceptibility to esophageal cancer.
- Obesity – Obese or overweight individuals are more prone to developing esophagus cancers primarily because they're more likely to have a chronic acid reflux problem.
- Other risk factors include having undergone a cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal surgery), drinking very hot beverages, a diet low in fresh fruit and vegetables, and poor oral hygiene.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer?
The signs and symptoms of esophageal cancer vary depending on the size of the tumor and its location along the esophagus. However, most of the symptoms are quite distinct and easily noticeable. These include:
- Progressive dysphagia (difficulty swallowing that worsens with time)
- Pain when swallowing (odynophagia)
- Frequent or constant indigestion or heartburn
- Constant pain behind the sternum or in the throat
- Frequent regurgitation or choking on food
- Aspiration that often leads to a dry cough
- Dark, smelly stool (melena) that's indicative of esophageal bleeding (hematemesis)
- Hoarseness of voice if the tumor affects or forms near the larynx
- Other constitutional symptoms may include fatigue, chills, weight loss, and anemia.
How Is Esophageal Cancer Diagnosed?
Ensure you see a doctor as soon as you notice any of the symptoms listed above. The doctor will then conduct a series of tests to check for the disease and gather data for a prognosis if the results show positive for esophageal cancer.
The first test may be an esophagram, where you’re given a liquid containing barium to swallow. The barium coats the inner lining of the esophagus, creating a chemical outline that can be imaged using a chest X-ray. However, the most effective way to diagnose esophageal cancer is through an upper endoscopy with a biopsy. During such a test, the doctor passes a thin, flexible tube fitted with a tiny camera and light down the throat to get a close-up view of the esophagus. This also allows for tissue and fluid samples to be collected from suspected tumors or peculiar lesions in the esophagus.
Secondary tests, such as biomarker testing and PET, ultrasound, bone, and CT scans, may be done to check for metastasis. With these tests complete, the cancer is graded into one of four stages depending on the tumor’s size, its effect on the lymph nodes (if any), and how far it has spread within and outside the esophagus.
How to Treat Esophageal Cancer Naturally with Brio-Medical
Esophageal cancer is typically treated through surgery and other targeted treatments during the early stages. Once the disease has metastasized, a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy medications is used. Patients with end-stage esophageal cancer are put in palliative care under various treatments that try to control damage and help the patient cope with the unpleasant symptoms.
With any cancer, combination or integrative therapy is better than chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or surgery alone. That’s why Brio-Medical provides alternative holistic treatments to cancer patients undergoing harsh and aggressive traditional medications. Our holistic remedies can be used in conjunction with other treatments to improve healing outcomes, cut recovery time, and reduce symptoms while boosting the patient's well-being.
Brio-Medical’s wide range of holistic treatments for esophageal cancer includes:
- Ozone therapy
- Nutrition and behavioral therapy
- Insulin potentiation IV therapy
- Natural immunotherapy
- Sodium bicarbonate IV
- Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy
All these holistic therapies and many others stimulate and coach your body to fight cancer using its natural defenses. They also energize the body and help it expel harmful toxins, reinvigorating your vitals. We also improve our patient’s mental and emotional wellness so they can better cope with the disease's intangible and often ignored toll.
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- Cook, M., Chow, WH. & Devesa, S. "Oesophageal cancer incidence in the United States by race, sex, and histologic type, 1977–2005." Br J Cancer 101, 855–859 (2009).