Esophageal Cancer: Follow These Steps To Reduce The Risk Of This Cancer Type
Early diagnosis plays an important role in treating this cancer. Therefore, it is imperative to consult a doctor when the symptoms such as difficulty in swallowing solid food, acid reflux, recurring chest pains and heartburn.
Esophageal cancer affects the tube that connects the throat with the stomach
- Esophageal cancer is a cancer that can occurs anywhere in the esophagus
- Maintain a healthy weight to reduce risk of several chronic diseases
- Tobacco Consumption is one of the reasons behind this cancer type
Esophageal cancer is a type of cancer that can occurs anywhere along the esophagus, a tube that connects the throat with the stomach, also known as the food pipe. In the past ten years, India has seen a significant surge in esophageal cancer cases. Usually, the demographic of 45 years of age and above is at a higher risk of esophageal cancer, as per data. However, today, it is being diagnosed in patients as young as 28 years of age as well.
Esophageal cancer: Causes, risk factors and treatment options
The following being the reasons for more and more youngsters being diagnosed with the disease:
Sedentary Lifestyle: Technology is the primary cause of increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Low levels of physical activity can result in higher risk of several chronic diseases.
Obesity: The western style of dietary habits, lack of exercise, increased stress level, leads to obesity, making the person prone to esophageal cancer.
Increased GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease): Today, GERD is also seen in the younger generation due to irregular diet and lifestyle which is one of the risk factors.
Tobacco Consumption: Unhealthy practices like chewing tobacco, smoking and alcohol consumption and a combination of these things lead to esophageal cancer.
In order to help reduce these lifestyle-related problems that lead to various diseases and increases the risk of Esophageal Cancer, one needs to consider the following changes in diet and lifestyle:
Healthy diet: It is essential to include one serving of antioxidant-rich food in your daily diet like salads, fruits. The aim is to consume more fibre in your diet rather than processed foods.
Exercise: At least four days a week, exercise for at least 20 minutes a day. It can be a simple exercise or yoga, but there has to be some form of physical activity one should pursue.
Weight management: A healthy weight can help you reduce the risk of several diseases.
Avoid tobacco and smoking: One should avoid tobacco consumption in any form. Most people consume tobacco in the form of either chewing tobacco or smoking. These habits are injurious to health and lead to various health problems, including cancer.
Most of the Esophageal cancers are detected at an advanced stage as the initial symptoms of Esophageal cancer are subtle or non-observational. Hence, they are neglected. Less than 5% of esophageal cancers are diagnosed at an early stage. As most cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage, multi-modality treatment is needed. Considering the type of cancer, stage of cancer and location of cancer, the following treatment options are suggested:
Surgery: Radical esophagectomy is the integral part of esophageal cancer management. There are two goals of the surgery. The first goal is to remove a diseased portion of the esophagus, and replace it with the conduit prepared from stomach, colon or small intestine (Gastric conduit is most common and preferred). The second goal is systematic mediastinal, periesophageal, abdominal and cervical LN dissection. Minimally invasive esophagectomy or keyhole surgery for esophagectomy is a current standard of care. Robotic-assisted esophagectomy is the most advanced form of minimally-invasive approach.
Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy in esophageal cancer is used prior to surgery to downstage the cancer along with chemotherapy. Beams in radiation therapy aim to kill the cancer cells and shrink the size of cancer.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is ideally suggested along with radiation therapy in most of the esophageal cancer. In a small subset of patients, peri operative chemotherapy is given before and after the surgery to slow down the cancer growth and recurrence.
Today, most of the esophageal cancer patients receive all three modalities of treatment and do well in the postoperative period. After the treatment for esophageal cancer, such patients require certain lifestyle modifications.
(Dr. Devendra Parikh, GI & HPB Cancer Surgery, HCG Cancer Centre, Ahmedabad)
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