What is Esophageal & Stomach Cancer?

Radiation Therapy & Cancer Treatment Center in Phoenix, AZ

Fighting cancer is one of the most difficult battles that life can give us – but with the right treatment, anything is possible. At Palo Verde Cancer Specialists, we’re proud to provide world-class radiation therapy and cancer treatment to patients throughout the Glendale, Scottsdale, Payson, and greater Phoenix area from our six state-of-the-art cancer treatment centers. Our treatment team includes some of the most qualified doctors, oncologists, and cancer-fighting experts in the field, and we strive to take a compassionate, personalized approach towards cancer treatment. We’re proud to treat a wide variety of conditions at our facilities, including esophageal & stomach cancer.

About Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer refers to any cancerous growth that forms in the esophagus, a long, fleshy tube connecting the throat with the stomach. Esophageal cancer is fairly rare, making up just 1% of US cancer diagnoses, but it’s also fairly dangerous, with a 5-year survival rate of 18%. That said, with early detection and treatment, it’s possible to effectively treat esophageal cancer through methods like radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or surgery.

A little over 50% of esophageal cancer diagnoses are adenocarcinoma, which forms in the gland cells near the bottom of the esophagus. The other form of esophageal cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, occurs in the top layer of the esophageal lining, and it may form at any point along the esophagus.

Esophageal cancer is significantly more common in patients with chronic acid reflux or Barrett’s esophagus, a condition where the muscle at the base of the esophagus responsible for closing off the stomach doesn’t function correctly, allowing stomach acid to lead into the esophagus. Over time, this acid can change the cells at the bottom of the esophagus, making them more likely to develop cancer.

What are the Risk Factors for Esophageal Cancer?

The exact causes of esophageal cancer are still unknown, but a number of factors appear to increase the risk for esophageal cancer:

  • Being male: men are roughly three times as likely to develop esophageal cancer as women
  • Use of tobacco
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • High-fat, high red meat diet that’s low in fruits and vegetables
  • Obesity
  • Barrett’s esophagus
  • Chronic acid reflux

About Stomach Cancer

The stomach is a sack-like organ at the base of the esophagus responsible for digesting food. Stomach cancer can develop at a variety of locations in the stomach itself, and the effects and treatments for stomach cancer will vary depending on where exactly the cancer forms. In medicine, it’s important to understand the difference between the stomach and the abdomen: while many people may use the term “stomach” to refer to their midsection, in medicine, the broader area is called the abdomen, and includes the liver, intestines, colon, appendix, and stomach. Stomach cancer refers only to cancers that develop in the actual organ of the stomach.

Stomach cancer occurs in four forms: adenocarcinoma, lymphoma, gastrointestinal stromal tumors, and carcinoid tumors. Adenocarcinoma is vastly more common than the others, making up 95% of stomach cancer cases. Adenocarcinoma forms in the innermost stomach lining, a layer called the mucosa. Lymphoma and gastrointestinal stromal tumors develop in the wall of the stomach, and carcinoid tumors start in hormone-producing cells in the stomach.

What are the Risk Factors for Stomach Cancer?

One of the most significant risk factors for stomach cancer is age, as 60% of cases are occur in patients older than 65. Other risk factors include:

  • High fat, high red meat diet that’s low in fruits and vegetables
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco use
  • Previous history of stomach surgery
  • Previous history of polyps in the stomach
  • Blood type A (the reason for this is not known)
  • Long-term exposure to dusts or fumes in the workplace or home
  • Obesity
  • African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Pacific Islanders are at a higher risk

Contact Your Glendale, Scottsdale, Payson, & Phoenix Cancer Specialists

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with stomach or esophageal cancer or are facing another condition, the fight against cancer can be trying and difficult – but it’s never something you have to face alone. At Palo Verde Cancer Specialists, we are committed to standing by our patients no matter what they’re up against. We’re proud to provide advanced cancer treatment services to patients all throughout the Phoenix area, and if you or a loved one have recently been diagnosed with cancer, we’re here to help. Contact us today to find out how we can help you overcome cancer and reclaim a healthy, happy, normal life.

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