As the name suggests, esophageal cancer refers to cancer that occurs in the esophagus. Esophageal cancer can occur anywhere along the esophagus and is considered one of the rarer forms of cancer. It’s also associated strongly with patients who have untreated GERD.

The two most common types of esophageal cancer are squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. Here’s how they work:

·      The first, Squamous cell carcinoma, forms in squamous cells. Squamous cells are the flat cells that line your esophagus. This cancer is most often found in the upper and middle part of the esophagus, but can occur anywhere along the esophagus.

·      The second, adenocarcinoma starts in your glandular cells, which are found in the lining of the esophagus produce and release fluids such as mucus. Adenocarcinomas usually form in the lower part of the esophagus, closer to the stomach.

Let’s take a look at some of the most surprising esophageal cancer statistics.

1.    Esophageal cancer is the eleventh leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

The number of deaths for esophageal cancer are around 4 per 100,000 men and women annually. Over 17,000 cases are diagnosed annually, and about 16,080 deaths from esophageal cancer will occur each year.

 2.    Esophageal cancer is more common in some countries than others.

 Rates of esophageal vary based on different geographic locations. Higher instances of esophageal cancer cases could be caused by increased tobacco and alcohol use or as well as diet and obesity rates. Esophageal cancer is more common places like Iran, China, India, and parts of southern Africa.

3.    Tobacco and alcohol put you at higher risk.

The use of tobacco products is a large risk factor for developing esophageal cancer. The more a person uses tobacco and the longer it is used, the higher the cancer risk. Drinking alcohol can also increase your risk of esophageal cancer. 

4.    Untreated GERD can lead to esophageal cancer.

If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease and either have not been diagnosed or have been diagnosed but continue experiencing symptoms, that untreated GERD could increase your risk of developing esophageal cancer.

5.    Esophageal cancer is much more prevalent in men.

Esophageal cancer is more common in men than women. According to the American Cancer Society, the lifetime risk of esophageal cancer in the United States is around 1 in 132 in men and 1 in 455 in women. 

6.    Survival rates have improved.

20 percent of people diagnosed with esophageal cancer live more than 5 years. Survival rates for new esophageal cancer cases have been falling on average around 1% each year over the past decade.  

Although survival rates for esophageal cancer are improving, esophageal cancer is still a serious condition that contributes to thousands of deaths each year in the US alone. If you have a chronic condition like GERD that puts you at a higher risk for esophageal cancer, make sure you take steps to treat it as early as possible to lower your risk.