The Oesophagus The oesophagus (gullet) is the tube through which food and drink pass
from the back of the throat to the stomach. It lies in the back of the
chest just in front of the spine. The outer muscular layers of the
oesophagus move fluid or food towards the stomach. At the lower end
there is a muscular valve which prevents stomach acid from entering
the gullet from below.
The cancer arises from the lining of the gullet and the effect is to
narrow the oesophagus and cause difficulty in swallowing. First solid
food tends to lodge or stick and then liquids. The ...view middle of the document...
What are the symptoms?
There is a progressive difficulty in swallowing, initially for solids
such as meat, and then for softer foods. Eventually there is
difficulty getting liquids down. Patients lose weight and may have
other symptoms such as coughing, choking, unexplained chest infections
or a hoarse voice.
Oesophageal cancer is more common in older people in their 60s,
but it can occur between the ages of 45-75.
Oesophageal cancer is twice as common in men than in women.
Smoking is a major risk factor for oesophageal cancer. About 2 in
5 cases of oesophageal cancer may be related to smoking. This risk
increases the longer a person smokes.
Heavy drinking increases the risk of oesophageal cancer. The
combination of heavy drinking and smoking results in a
particularly high risk of developing this type of cancer.
* Barrett's oesophagus
This is a long-term problem with reflux, where the stomach acid
tracks back into the oesophagus. People who have Barrett's
oesophagus are 50 times more likely to develop some types of