Esophageal cancer is a type of cancer that occurs healthy cells start to grow and divide uncontrollably creating growths (known as tumors) along the surface of the esophagus. Doctors diagnose esophageal cancer using a camera-guided scope (endoscopy) to explore the esophagus and look for any abnormalities such as nodules or areas of irritation. If the doctor found any signs of cancer during an endoscopy they may order a biopsy to collect a sample of the abnormal growth. These tissues are analyzed for any potential cancer cells.
There are two main types of esophageal cancer: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.
Squamous cell carcinomas develop from normal squamous cells that run along the surface of the esophagus. On the other hand, adenocarcinomas are formed from gland cells present in the lower third of the esophagus, and it is believed to be caused mainly by the continuous exposure to stomach acid.