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Dr. Vasu Moparty: What to Know About Esophageal Cancer

April 26, 2021

Esophageal cancer is a disease that occurs in the esophagus – a long tube that runs from your throat to your stomach and transports food and liquids for digestion. Vasu Moparty, M.D., hematologist and medical oncologist at Texas Oncology–Methodist Charlton Cancer Center, Methodist Dallas Cancer Center, and Midlothian, discusses causes, prevention, and treatment for the disease during Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month, observed annually in April.

What is a common misconception you’ve heard about esophageal cancer?

A common misconception is that esophageal cancer is always advanced and fatal. While many cases are diagnosed at later stages, esophageal cancer can be detected early when it’s most treatable.

Some of the main causes of esophageal cancer include smoking, alcohol use, and obesity."

What causes esophageal cancer? Can you share some ways to reduce the risk of developing esophageal cancer?

There are generally two types of esophageal cancer: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. Some of the main causes of esophageal cancer include smoking, alcohol use, and obesity. You can reduce these risk factors by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including smoking cessation (if you smoke), limiting alcohol intake, and getting proper nutrition in your diet to maintain a healthy weight.

Esophageal cancer is also associated with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), which occurs when stomach acid flows up to the esophagus. GERD is a chronic condition but can be managed with medication.

What are common signs and symptoms of esophageal cancer?

Esophageal cancer symptoms vary with each patient. Common symptoms include difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, chronic coughing, weight loss, vomiting, and pain, pressure, or burning in chest.

How has the treatment landscape evolved for esophageal cancer? Do you expect it to continue changing?

Recent treatment advancements for reflux and improved endoscopy are changing how we diagnose and treat diseases of the esophagus. Improved chemotherapy and radiation therapy, as well as the use of immunotherapy, are also changing the way esophageal cancer is treated. I suspect in the years to come we will have further innovations in the way we treat this disease.

For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.