Certain lifestyle factors are
associated with the development of oesophageal cancer.
A diet high in fruits and
vegetables is linked to a lower risk as they provide vitamins and minerals that
may help prevent cancer.
Overeating, which leads to becoming
overweight, raises the risk. A diet high in processed meats may increase the
risk, as might drinking a lot of very hot liquids.
Using any form of tobacco increases
risk. More than half of squamous cell oesophageal cancer is linked to smoking.
Similarly, the risk increases the
more a person drinks alcohol. Combining smoking and drinking raises the risk
much more than using either alone.
Medical risk factors for cancer of
the oesophagus include: Heartburn: Long-standing heartburn, also called
reflux (or gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD) increases risk.
Barrett oesophagus results from GERD and
can change the cells at the end of the oesophagus, raising the risk of
adenocarcinoma of the oesophagus.
Achalasia: The muscle at the bottom of
the oesophagus does not open to release food into the stomach, the lower end of
the oesophagus expands and food collects there instead of moving into the stomach.
Tylosis: A rare, inherited disease that
causes extra skin to grow on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
People with tylosis are at a very high risk and should be seen by a doctor regularly
to watch for this cancer.
Esophageal webs: A web is an abnormal
bulge of tissue that causes the oesophagus to narrow and can lead to feeling
like food gets stuck when swallowed. About one in 10 people with this problem
will get oesophageal cancer.
Stomach bacteria: H. pylori bacteria can
cause stomach problems, including ulcers and some types of cancer. Infection
with these bacteria can be treated with antibiotics and a drug to stop stomach
acid. People with H. pylori get adenocarcinoma of the oesophagus more often
Other cancers: People who have had other
cancers such as lung, mouth, and throat, have a high risk of getting
oesophageal cancer, perhaps because of smoking.
There are often no signs or
symptoms in the early stages of oesophageal cancer. They often appear at an advanced
stage, and include having trouble swallowing (dysphagia); pain, especially in
the mid-chest; unintended weight loss; hoarseness; hiccups; pneumonia; and high