The most frequent malignant oesophageal tumours are squamous carcinoma (SC) and adenocarcinoma (AC).
Squamous Carcinoma is usually associated with the chronic consumption of tobacco and alcohol. Adenocarcinoma, on the other hand, develops in patients with Barrett’s Oesophagus.
The symptoms of oesophageal cancer in its initial stages (gastro-oesophageal reflux, burning sensation) frequently go unnoticed by the patient. It isn’t until more advanced stages that patients refer to difficulty when swallowing (dysphagia), pain when swallowing (odynophagia), lack of appetite (anorexia), and/or weight loss.
The diagnosis is established using gastroscopy and biopsies of the lesion, although it is sometimes necessary to perform an echo-endoscopy to evaluate the local extension and distance of the tumour.
Treatment for oesophageal cancer will depend on the type, size, and extension of the lesion; the most common therapeutic options are surgery, associated or not to radiotherapy/chemotherapy, or endoscopic techniques in select cases for curative (resection of lesions in initial stages) as well as palliative purposes (dilatation of stenosis, placement of prosthetic).
An immediate visit to a medical centre specializing in digestive pathology is highly recommended if the aforementioned symptoms are detected.