Esophageal Cancer Risk Factors: Smoking, Alcohol, etc.

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  • Tobacco/Cigarette Smoking: Chronic tobacco chewing or cigarette smoking exposes the esophagus cells to carcinogenic chemicals, which increases the risk of esophageal cancer. This has been identified as one of the major risk factors for esophageal cancer.
  • Excessive Alcohol Consumption: Chronic alcohol use irritates the esophagus by itself or it may render the esophagus susceptible to other carcinogens. Various population-based studies worldwide have shown that alcohol use can increase the risk of esophageal cancer in a dose-dependent manner.
  • Excessive consumption of hot beverages: Excessive drinking of hot liquids or eating hot food can cause thermal injury to the esophagus leading to esophageal cancer.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): It is a disorder in which stomach’s acidic content reflux into the esophagus, generally due to malfunctioning of the lower esophageal sphincter. Unlike stomach cells, esophagus cells are not capable of withstanding the acidic conditions. Thus, prolonged exposure of the lower esophagus to stomach acid content causes irritation of the cells in that region, which may lead to cancerous changes in the cells.
  • Industrial/Occupational exposure: Occupational exposure to heavy metals or harmful gases/fumes also increases the risk of esophageal cancer.
  • Achalasia: It is a condition characterized by the accumulation of food in the lower esophagus due to incomplete relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter. This causes irritation of esophagus by the retained food and increases the risk of esophageal cancer by several folds.
  • Barrett’s esophagus: It is a condition in which pre-cancerous changes take place in the lower esophagus by reflux of stomach acid for a long time. This condition may arise due to certain disorders like GERD. Patients with Barrett’s esophagus are generally at higher risk of developing esophageal cancer.
  • Older Age: Higher age individuals, especially men are at significantly higher risk of developing esophageal cancer.

Diet deficient in fruits and vegetables, obesity, low socioeconomic status, infection with Helicobacter pylori or human papillomavirus (HPV), and certain hereditary disorders like Plummer–Vinson syndrome and tylosis have also shown to increase the risk of esophagus cancer.

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To further understand the disease in a better way, have a look at the video below where CancerBro meets Mr. Ellis who has recently being diagnosed with SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA of esophagus.

CancerBro asks Mr. Ellis several important questions related to his disease from symptoms which lead him to contact an oncologist, to various RISK FACTORS related to squamous cell carcinoma of esophagus.

Video Transcript:

First, we will understand esophageal squamous cell carcinoma cancer patient.

For this, we will meet Mr. Ellis today, who has recently been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of esophageal.

Mr. Ellis is a 55 years old man, one day he had severe vomiting which contained blood.

He straight away rushed to the hospital. On complete diagnostic workup in the hospital, he was diagnosed to have squamous cell carcinoma of esophageal. Let’s meet him.

CancerBro: Hi Mr. Ellis, I am very sorry to hear about your illness. How are you feeling today?

Mr. Ellis: CancerBro, I was very worried when I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, but after talking to you, I am feeling a bit relaxed.

CancerBro: How old are you, and where are you from?

Mr. Ellis: CancerBro, I am 55 years old and I am from India.

CancerBro: Okay Mr. Ellis, before this episode of blood vomiting, did you have any other complaint in the past?

Mr. Ellis: Yes CancerBro. For the past few months, I had discomfort in the middle of my chest and had difficulty eating solid food. Also, I have lost weight significantly in the past few months.

CancerBro: Please tell me something about your occupation.

Mr. Ellis: I work in a factory, where I am continuously exposed to gases and heavy metals.

CancerBro: Are you addicted to smoking or alcohol?

Mr. Ellis: Yes CancerBro, I drink about 3 to 4 times a week and smoke about a pack of cigarettes daily for the past many years.

CancerBro: What kind of diet do you take? Do you consume raw fruits and vegetables regularly?

Mr. Ellis: No CancerBro, my diet is mostly unhealthy with almost no fruits or vegetables. Also, I consume a lot of hot beverages like Tea and coffee multiple times in a day.

CancerBro: Okay Mr. Ellis, thank you very much.

I think you people must have got an idea, how a squamous cell cancer of esophagus presents, and what are the risk factors for the disease.

And in the following video, CancerBro meets Mr. Eric who has recently being diagnosed with ADENOCARCINOMA of esophagus.

Video Transcript:

CancerBro, does the adenocarcinoma of Esophageal has the same risk factors?

The risk factors for adenocarcinoma are somewhat different. Let’s meet Mr. Eric Esophageal adenocarcinoma patient for understand better.

He’s Mr. Eric. He is 58 years old obese man. He has chronic gastritis and heartburn, for which he is taking antacids for a very long time.

For past few days, he had difficulty in swallowing solid foods, for which he consulted the doctor, and add on further workup, he was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of Esophageal.

CancerBro: Hi Mr. Eric, how are you feeling now? I wanted to ask a few questions related to your disease.

CancerBro: Hi Mr. Eric, how are you feeling now? I wanted to ask a few questions related to your disease?

Mr. Eric: CancerBro, I am better now. Please go ahead.

CancerBro: What were your complaints for which you consulted the doctor?

Mr. Eric: I had chronic gastritis and heartburn, for which I was taking antacids regularly, but recently, I started having difficulty in swallowing solid food, along with cough.

CancerBro: Mr. Eric, where are you from and what work do you do?

Mr. Eric: I am from USA, and work for a software company.

CancerBro: What kind of diet do you take* Are you addicted to smoking or alcohol?

Mr. Eric: I smoke more than 1 pack of cigarettes daily, but take alcohol very rarely. My diet is fairly normal.

CancerBro: Okay Mr. Eric, thank you very much.

I think you must have got an idea about the risk factors for adenocarcinoma of Esophageal cancer.

Watch the video below to understand the RISK FACTORS FOR ESOPHAGEAL CANCER in a better way.

Video Transcript:

CancerBro, Can you please discuss the risk factors for both in detail?

Patient with squamous cell carcinoma are usually thin built due to the significant weight loss, and patient with adenocarcinoma are usually obese.

Smoking is a risk factor for both. Cessation of smoking reduces the risk for squamous cell carcinoma but not for adenocarcinoma.

Moreover, the chances of cancer increases with the duration and intensity of smoking.

Diet rich in red and processed meat, saturated fats or cholesterol, increases the risk, whereas diet rich in raw fruits and vegetables, grains, fibers or carotenoids, decrease the risk of SQUAMOUS CELL AND ADENOCARCINOMA of esophagus.

Excessive alcohol consumption is a risk factor for SQUAMOUS CELL carcinoma but not for ADENOCARCINOMA, moreover, the risk increases with the duration and intensity of drinking.

Excessive consumption of hot beverages like tea and coffee also increases the risk of squamous cell carcinoma of esophagus.

Industrial or occupational exposure to gases or heavy metals, also increases the risk of squamous cell carcinoma.

Achalasia cardia is a condition in which there is failure of lower esophageal sphincter to relax after taking food, due to which there is retention of food particles, leading to chronic irritation and squamous cell carcinoma.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a condition in which there is a reflux of gastric contents, including gastic acid, into the esophagus, causing changes in the epithelium leading to barret’s esophagus, and adenocarcinoma.

So these were the risk factors for esophageal carcinoma.

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