The last 25 years have seen the rates of some cancers lower, thanks to better prevention methods. During the same time, though, the frequency of some oesophageal cancers rose significantly. The reason for this increase stays a mystery, although essential risk factors have been identified. Understanding the causes of oesophageal cancer and changing a few simple habits can reduce the risk for this rare but dangerous disease, says the best oncologist in Kolkata.

Two Faces of Oesophageal Cancer

The oesophagus is the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. There are two major kinds of oesophageal cancer:

  • Squamous cell cancer
  • Adenocarcinoma

Their names refer to different kinds of cells in the oesophagus that turn into cancer. The two types of oesophageal cancer have different causes and affect different parts of the oesophagus. Once cancer forms, though, the two kinds of oesophageal cancer act similarly. Squamous cell cancer and adenocarcinoma rates have increased significantly in recent times, says the oncology specialist in Kolkata.

Why is oesophageal cancer on the rise?

Enhanced detection rates aren’t the cause, according to researchers. Experts believe some risk factors for adenocarcinoma must also be increasing, but they can’t say what. A top suspect is the rising rates of obesity, possibly causing a more increased incidence of reflux, which is a risk factor for adenocarcinoma.

Oesophageal Cancer Risk Factors

Numerous factors increase the risk for oesophageal cancer:

  • Age over 60
  • Male sex
  • Tobacco use
  • Alcohol use
  • Barrett’s oesophagus
  • History of head or neck cancer
  • Frequent drinking of very hot beverages
  • Obesity

Different risk factors for each type of oesophageal cancer:

  • Squamous cell cancers: Tobacco or alcohol use increases the risk the most. More than 50% of these cancers are linked to smoking. Using tobacco and alcohol together raises the risk far more than using either alone, says the best oncologist in Kolkata.
  • Adenocarcinomas: A condition called Barrett’s oesophagus contributes to this form of oesophageal cancer. Smoking doubles the chance of adenocarcinoma, but alcohol doesn’t play a part.

Prevention of Oesophageal Cancer

Prevention is the key to any form of cancer. Because oesophageal cancer often spreads before it’s detected, prevention is even more critical. There are many things one can do to decrease their risk for oesophageal cancer:

  • Stopping smoking will lower the risk for many cancers and other conditions, not just oesophageal cancer
  • Restrict alcohol to one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women
  • Eat a diet high in leafy vegetables and a variety of fruits

If you have been diagnosed with oesophageal cancer or if you feel you are at risk of it, consult Dr Sanjoy Mandal, the best oncologist in Kolkata.