Esophageal Cancer Guide: 4 Symptoms, Causes, and Prevention Tips | Dr. Anvesh Dharanikota, Hyderabad

Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer, a malignancy originating in the cells lining the esophagus, poses a significant health risk globally. Dr. Anvesh Dharanikota, an esteemed oncologist based in Hyderabad, provides comprehensive insights into this disease, including its symptoms, causes, and preventive strategies.

Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer may initially develop without noticeable symptoms, making early detection challenging. However, as the disease progresses, individuals may experience the following signs:

  1. Difficulty Swallowing: Also known as dysphagia, this symptom arises as the tumor grows, obstructing the passage of food and liquids through the esophagus.

  2. Chest Discomfort: Patients often report feelings of pressure, pain, or burning sensations in the chest area, particularly behind the breastbone.

  3. Persistent Cough or Hoarseness: Chronic coughing or hoarseness may indicate irritation or obstruction within the esophagus.

  4. Unexplained Weight Loss: Despite maintaining regular eating habits, individuals may experience significant weight loss, often due to difficulty swallowing or the metabolic demands of cancer.

  5. Worsening Indigestion or Heartburn: While occasional indigestion or heartburn is common, worsening or persistent symptoms may signal underlying esophageal issues

Causes of Esophageal Cancer

The development of esophageal cancer is attributed to genetic mutations within the cells lining the esophagus. These alterations disrupt the normal regulatory mechanisms of cell growth and death, leading to uncontrolled proliferation. Key causes and risk factors include:

  1. Chronic Irritation: Conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), characterized by chronic acid reflux, can irritate the esophageal lining, increasing the risk of cancer development.

  2. Alcohol and Tobacco Use: Habitual consumption of alcohol and tobacco products, particularly smoking, significantly elevates the likelihood of developing esophageal cancer.

  3. Obesity: Excess body weight, particularly centralized obesity, is associated with an increased risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma.

  4. Poor Dietary Habits: Inadequate consumption of fruits and vegetables, coupled with a diet high in processed foods, may contribute to esophageal cancer risk.

  5. Barrett Esophagus: Individuals with Barrett esophagus, a precancerous condition resulting from chronic acid reflux, face an elevated risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma.

Preventive Measures:

While certain risk factors for esophageal cancer cannot be modified, adopting healthy lifestyle choices can help mitigate overall risk. Dr. Anvesh Dharanikota recommends the following preventive measures:

  1. Regular Screening: Individuals with Barrett esophagus or a history of chronic acid reflux should undergo regular screenings for esophageal cancer to facilitate early detection and intervention.

  2. Moderate Alcohol Consumption: Limit alcohol intake to reduce the risk of esophageal cancer, adhering to recommended guidelines of one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

  3. Balanced Diet: Embrace a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while minimizing the consumption of processed and high-fat foods.

  4. Regular Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity to maintain a healthy weight and promote overall well-being, aiming for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.

  5. Tobacco Cessation: Quit smoking and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke to reduce the risk of developing esophageal cancer and other smoking-related diseases.

Esophageal Cancer

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