A Different Way of Looking at Esophageal Cancer

Join Dr. Jen Caudle, DO, on a journey inside the body to learn more about esophageal cancer.

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[MUSIC PLAYING] Cancer, the one word no one ever wants to hear.
It instills fear. It crushes hope, and it makes the future an uncertainty. At least 17 million people worldwide
will be diagnosed with cancer this year. And esophageal cancer will be the eighth most common on that list.
Let's take a look at the esophagus, a 10-inch-long tube responsible for carrying swallowed foods and liquids from the throat down to the stomach.
Inside this esophagus is esophageal cancer, which usually starts in the inner lining of the hollow organ.
Cancer forms when abnormal cells in the body grow and divide uncontrollably. Some divide slowly, while others divide rapidly,
but most do it silently before symptoms appear. The cancerous pulp-like, massive tissue, or tumor,
surrounded by ulcerated lesions, is slowly rising off the surface and protruding into the open space
of the esophagus. As the tumor continues to grow and enlarge, it can block the esophageal opening, making swallowing difficult, causing chest pain or pressure,
and worsening heartburn. At some point, the tumor can seep into deeper tissues and invade other parts of the body
through the bloodstream or lymph nodes, causing the cancer to metastasize, or spread, to nearby organs like the lungs or liver.
To stop this, we must fight quickly and aggressively, and fortunately, we can. Radiation and chemotherapy are common treatments
used to attack cancer and prevent it from spreading. With radiation, we can specifically target the tumor with X-ray-like beams to kill or slow down cancer cells.
With chemotherapy, we can destroy actively growing cells in the body, like those of cancer, by introducing drugs into the bloodstream.
But sometimes these aren't enough. Newer treatment options like immunotherapy can be used alone, or with radiation and chemotherapy,
to detect cancer cells, mark them for destruction, and work with the immune system, our body's defense against infections and microbes,
to seek out and kill cancer. Every second matters. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed
with esophageal cancer, talk with your doctor about available treatment options, and let's win this fight. [MUSIC PLAYING]

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