Esophageal Cancer Prevention
Doctors cannot always explain why one person gets cancer and another doesn't. However, scientists have studied general patterns of cancer in the population to learn what things around us and what things we do in our lives may increase our chance of developing cancer.
Anything that increases a person's chance of developing a disease is called a risk factor; anything that decreases a person's chance of developing a disease is called a protective factor. Some of the risk factors for cancer can be avoided, but many cannot. For example, although you can choose to quit smoking, you cannot choose which genes you have inherited from your parents. Both smoking and inheriting specific genes could be considered risk factors for certain kinds of cancer, but only smoking can be avoided. Prevention means avoiding the risk factors and increasing the protective factors that can be controlled so that the chance of developing cancer decreases.
Although many risk factors can be avoided, it is important to keep in mind that avoiding risk factors does not guarantee that you will not get cancer. Also, most people with a particular risk factor for cancer do not actually get the disease. Some people are more sensitive than others are to factors that can cause cancer. Talk to your doctor about methods of preventing cancer that might be effective for you.
Purposes of this summary on esophageal cancer prevention
The purposes of this summary on prevention of esophageal cancer are to:
You can talk to your doctor or health care professional about cancer prevention methods and whether they would be likely to help you.
Esophageal Cancer Prevention
Esophageal cancer is cancer of the esophagus, the muscular tube through which food passes from the throat to the stomach. Most esophageal cancers are either adenocarcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. Both types of cancer are found in the tissue that lines the inside of the esophagus. Squamous cell cancers occur in the upper part of the esophagus near the throat and adenocarcinomas occur in the lower part of the esophagus near the stomach.
Significance of esophageal cancer
The number of new cases of squamous cell cancers of the esophagus is declining. African American males are more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus than are white males. The risk of this type of cancer increases with age for all racial/ethnic groups.
The number of new cases of esophageal adenocarcinomas has risen over the past 2 decades. It has become more prevalent than squamous cell cancer of the esophagus in the United States and Western Europe.
Esophageal cancer prevention
The following risk factors and preventive factors may affect whether a person develops esophageal cancer:
Source: National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov
Last Editorial Review: 1/5/2006