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Am I at Risk for Esophageal Cancer?

How often do you think about your esophagus? Probably not very often, as long as you’re not having trouble with the food you eat getting from your mouth to your stomach with no discomfort. The esophagus is the tube that connects those points.

Several forms of cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma, can develop in your esophagus, and esophageal cancer is on the rise across the United States.

If you’re at risk for esophageal cancer, as with cancer elsewhere in your body, early treatment and detection improve your chances of recovery and long-term survival. You want to make sure you know the risk factors for developing these cancers.

At the Center for Advanced Surgery in Dallas, Plano, and Tyler, Texas, we support patients who have been diagnosed with esophageal cancer, or feel they’re at an elevated risk of the disease. 

Here’s what our care team, under the expert leadership of gastroesophageal surgeons Marc Ward, MD and Steven G. Leeds, MD, wants you to know about the risk factors for esophageal cancer.

The toll of chronic conditions

Your esophagus is uniquely vulnerable to certain issues, based on your behaviors and other chronic conditions. Over time, exposure can lead to the development of a malignant tumor and a diagnosis of esophageal cancer.

Smoking increases your risk of squamous cell carcinoma. Your risk of esophageal cancer also increases as a result of certain chronic conditions affecting your digestion. 

Among the conditions that can put you at a higher risk of esophageal cancer are:

Gastroesophageal reflux disease

Also called GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease is the most common cause of esophageal adenocarcinoma. It develops when your stomach’s acids and bile repeatedly splash up into the esophageal tissue, which isn’t suited to withstand the harsh substances.

Hiatal hernia

A hiatal hernia develops when part of the stomach pushes through the chest and up into the esophagus. This can result in frequent vomiting and repeated exposure of your esophagus to stomach acid and bile.

Barrett's esophagus

Barrett's esophagus is a condition that can trigger the development of precancerous cell changes due to long-term irritation and inflammation in your esophagus from stomach acids.

With early detection and treatment, the Center for Advanced Surgery can potentially prevent your from developing full-blown cancer. Getting your condition under control right away might save you from serious health consequences down the road.

Minimally invasive treatment options

If you do develop esophageal cancer, the Center for Advanced Surgery team is ready to support you through every step of your diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. We use multiple minimally invasive techniques and technologies to treat esophageal cancer.

We start with a biopsy to confirm your diagnosis. We can then tailor your treatment plan to the severity of your diagnosis.

Depending on your treatment needs, you could benefit from our specialized skills with minimally invasive esophagectomy. We also offer treatment techniques including endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR), endoscopic mucosal dissection (ESD), and Barrx™ endoscopic radiofrequency ablation. With early treatment, we can halt the development of your esophageal cancer.

To learn more about the effects of risk factors like smoking or exposure to stomach acid on your esophageal health, and for a full diagnosis and treatment plan for your condition, get in touch with the experts at the Center for Advanced Surgery this fall.

Reach out to our team at our Dallas, Plano, or Tyler, Texas offices by calling today, or request an appointment online. You can also send us a message here on our website.

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