Esophageal Cancer Prevention (PDQ®): Prevention - Patient Information [NCI]
This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http://cancer.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER
Esophageal Cancer Prevention
Overview of Prevention
Doctors cannot always explain why one person gets cancer and another does not. 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
The purposes of this summary on prevention of esophageal cancer are to:
- Give information on esophageal cancer and how often it occurs.
- Describe esophageal cancer prevention methods.
- Give current facts about which people or groups of people would most likely be helped by following esophageal cancer prevention methods.
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
Esophagealcancer 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:
|TOBACCO AND ALCOHOL
Squamous cell cancer of the esophagus is strongly associated with tobacco and alcohol use. Studies have shown that avoiding tobacco and alcohol decreases the risk of developing esophageal cancer.
A diet with plenty of green and yellow fruits and vegetables and cruciferous vegetables (such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower) may lower the risk of developing squamous cell cancer of the esophagus.
|NONSTEROIDAL ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DRUGS
Some studies have shown that the use of nonsteroidal anti-Inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs (such as aspirin and other drugs that reduce fever, swelling, pain, and redness) is associated with a reduced risk of developing both squamous cell cancer and adenocarcinoma of the esophagus. Use of NSAIDs, however, increases the risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, bleeding in the stomach and intestines, and kidney damage.
|HELICOBACTER PYLORI INFECTION AND GASTRIC ATROPHY
Infection with the Helicobacter pyloribacteria causes inflammation and ulcers in the stomach lining, which may lead to a condition called gastric atrophy (cells that line the stomach are destroyed). This condition may increase the risk of developing squamous cell cancer of the esophagus.
|GASTRIC REFLUX AND BARRETT ESOPHAGUS
Gastric reflux (the backing up of stomach contents into the lower section of the esophagus) may irritate the esophagus and, over time, cause Barrett esophagus. Barrett esophagus is a condition in which the cells lining the lower part of the esophagus have changed or been replaced with abnormal cells that could lead to adenocarcinoma of the esophagus. It is not known if surgery or other medical treatment to stop gastric reflux will reduce the risk of developing adenocarcinoma of the esophagus.
Get More Information From NCI
For more information, U.S. residents may call the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) Cancer Information Service toll-free at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. A trained Cancer Information Specialist is available to answer your questions.
The NCI's LiveHelp® online chat service provides Internet users with the ability to chat online with an Information Specialist. The service is available from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday. Information Specialists can help Internet users find information on NCI Web sites and answer questions about cancer.
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There are also many other places to get materials and information about cancer treatment and services. Hospitals in your area may have information about local and regional agencies that have information on finances, getting to and from treatment, receiving care at home, and dealing with problems related to cancer treatment.
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Changes to This Summary (07 / 12 / 2007)
The PDQcancer information summaries are reviewed regularly and updated as new information becomes available. This section describes the latest changes made to this summary as of the date above.
Editorial changes were made to this summary.
Questions or Comments About This Summary
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PDQ IS A COMPREHENSIVE CANCER DATABASE AVAILABLE ON NCI'S WEB SITE.
PDQ is the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) comprehensive cancer information database. Most of the information contained in PDQ is available online at NCI's Web site. PDQ is provided as a service of the NCI. The NCI is part of the National Institutes of Health, the federal government's focal point for biomedical research.
PDQ CONTAINS CANCER INFORMATION SUMMARIES.
The PDQ database contains summaries of the latest published information on cancer prevention, detection, genetics, treatment, supportive care, and complementary and alternative medicine. Most summaries are available in two versions. The health professional versions provide detailed information written in technical language. The patient versions are written in easy-to-understand, nontechnical language. Both versions provide current and accurate cancer information.
THE PDQ CANCER INFORMATION SUMMARIES ARE DEVELOPED BY CANCER EXPERTS AND REVIEWED REGULARLY.
Editorial Boards made up of experts in oncology and related specialties are responsible for writing and maintaining the cancer information summaries. The summaries are reviewed regularly and changes are made as new information becomes available. The date on each summary ("Date Last Modified") indicates the time of the most recent change.
PDQ ALSO CONTAINS INFORMATION ON CLINICAL TRIALS.
A clinical trial is a study to answer a scientific question, such as whether a certain drug or nutrient can prevent cancer. Trials are based on past studies and what has been learned in the laboratory. Each trial answers certain scientific questions in order to find new and better ways to help cancer patients and those who are at risk for cancer. During prevention clinical trials, information is collected about the effects of a new prevention method and how well it works. If a clinical trial shows that a new method is better than one currently being used, the new method may become "standard." People who are at high risk for a certain type of cancer may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial.
Listings of clinical trials are included in PDQ and are available online at NCI's Web site. Descriptions of the trials are available in health professional and patient versions. Many cancer doctors who take part in clinical trials are also listed in PDQ. For more information, call the Cancer Information Service 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).
Date Last Modified: 2007-07-12
If you want to know more about cancer and how it is treated, or if you wish to know about clinical trials for your type of cancer, you can call the NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-422-6237, toll free. A trained information specialist can talk with you and answer your questions.