Apr 19, 2019 10:00 AM

a graphic showing the esophagus between a person's mouth and stomach

Updated April 2021

Did you know that April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month? Here are a few things to know about esophageal cancer.

What is esophageal cancer?

The esophagus is a tube that takes food from the mouth to the stomach. Esophageal cancer is a disease where cancerous cells form in the esophagus. There are several types of esophageal cancer, with the most common types being squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.

How common is esophageal cancer?

More than 19,000 people were diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2020. With research and early detection, the five-year survival rate continues to increase each year.

How can I lower my risk?

Lifestyle, diet, and certain medical conditions can increase your risk of developing esophageal cancer. These tips can help decrease your risk of developing esophageal cancer.

What are some of the symptoms of esophageal cancer?

Esophageal cancer symptoms can be tricky. Many other health problems can cause the same symptoms, so it’s best to talk with your doctor if you are experiencing any of these to make sure you receive an accurate diagnosis.  

  • Pain or difficulty swallowing
  • Weight loss
  • Pain behind the breastbone
  • Hoarseness and cough
  • Indigestion and heartburn

If I have esophageal cancer, what are some questions I should ask my doctor?

It is helpful to write down the questions you want to ask your doctor and bring them with you to your appointment. These are some questions to ask:

  • What type of esophageal cancer do I have?
  • What stage of cancer do I have?
  • What are the treatment options for my type and stage of cancer?
  • What other services are available for me during treatment?
  • How can I contact you if I have further questions?

For more information on esophageal cancer or any other cancer topic, contact the Cancer Learning Center at 1-888-424-2100 or cancerinfo@hci.utah.edu.

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Cancer touches all of us.

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