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 and Delivery of High Quality Cancer Care in Essex"
NHS Essex Cancer Network

Oesophageal Cancer

About

Oesophageal cancer is a type of cancer affecting the oesophagus (gullet) – the long tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach.

It mainly affects people in their 60s and 70s and is more common in men than women.

This page covers:

Symptoms

When to get medical advice

Causes

Treatments

Outlook

Symptoms of oesophageal cancer

Oesophageal cancer doesn't usually cause any symptoms in the early stages when the tumour is small. It's only when it gets bigger that symptoms tend to develop.

Symptoms of oesophageal cancer can include:

Read more about the symptoms of oesophageal cancer.

When to get medical advice

See your GP if you experience:

  • swallowing difficulties
  • heartburn on most days for three weeks or more
  • any other unusual or persistent symptoms

The symptoms can be caused by several conditions and in many cases won't be caused by cancer – but it's a good idea to get them checked out.

If your GP thinks you need to have some tests, they can refer you to a hospital specialist.

Read about how oesophageal cancer is diagnosed.

Causes of oesophageal cancer

The exact cause of oesophageal cancer is unknown, but the following things can increase your risk:

  • persistent gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)
  • smoking
  • drinking too much alcohol over a long period of time
  • being overweight or obese
  • having an unhealthy diet that's low in fruit and vegetables

Stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol, losing weight and having a healthy diet may help reduce your risk of developing oesophageal cancer.

Read more about the causes of oesophageal cancer.

Treatments for oesophageal cancer

If oesophageal cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, it may be possible to cure it with:

  • surgery to remove the affected section of oesophagus
  • chemotherapy, with or without radiotherapy (chemoradiation), to kill the cancerous cells and shrink the tumour

If oesophageal cancer is diagnosed at a later stage, a cure may not be achievable.

But in these cases, surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy can be used to help keep the cancer under control and relieve any symptoms you have.

Read more about how oesophageal cancer is treated and living with oesophageal cancer.

Outlook for oesophageal cancer

The outlook for oesophageal cancer varies depending on things such as how far it has spread, your age and your general health.

If it's detected while it's still quite small, it may be possible to get rid of it completely.

But as oesophageal cancer doesn't usually cause any symptoms until a late stage, it has often spread quite far by the time it's diagnosed.

Cancer Research UK has more information about oesophageal cancer survival statistics.

Further information on oesophageal cancer

Information Prescription Service

To access the Information Prescription Service and the national cancer information pathway for oesophageal cancer please click on the link below. Then click on 'Specialist information from our charity partners'

www.nhs.uk

Macmillan Cancer Support Website

www.macmillan.org.uk

Cancer Research UK Website

www.cancerresearchuk.org

Further Information

Visit or phone a local cancer information centre

There are several cancer information and support centres in Essex Cancer Network where anyone affected by cancer can be sure of a warm welcome and high quality, accurate, evidence-based information:

Basildon Hospital Macmillan Info and Support Centre, Outpatients Dept, Basildon Hospital, staffed Monday 2pm - Friday 12.30pm,tel: 0845 155 3111 extension 4908

Macmillan Info and Support Centre,Essex County Hospital, Outpatients Dept, Monday - Friday office hours, tel: 01206 747474

Information Resource Service, St Luke's House, Corringham,Thurrock, Monday to Friday office hours, tel: 01375 648170

Lantern Suite, Farleigh Hospice,Chelmsford, Monday to Friday office hours, tel: 01245 457418

Hospice Outreach Project Information Bus, Farleigh Hospice, covers the Chelmsford area. Contact Farleigh Hospice as above

For more information, please contact the service direct.

 

Visit your local library in Essex Cancer Network

Essex, Southend and Thurrock library services have worked in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support and the Essex Cancer Network to establish collections of quality assured information books and pamphlets about cancer. These can be accessed at any library: just ask. Additionally some staff at libraries have been trained to help patients use the Information Prescription Service.

Contact Macmillan Cancer Support Helplines

If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just someone to talk to, call free, Monday to Friday 9am - 8pm (interpretation service available) tel: 0808 808 0000

For financial queries tel: 0808 808 2232

 

Remember: Stay safe online when looking for support!

Internet chat rooms and message forums can be valuable sources of support and comfort, enabling you to meet others in the same position. However, there is potential for abuse - please read these guidelines before you set off to explore...

Click here to download the draft guidelines

 

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