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April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month, Early Detection is Key

Published on 

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Did You Know?

  • Esophageal cancer is more common in men.
  • The two most common types of esophageal cancer are adenocarcinoma (most common in White people) and squamous cell carcinoma (more common in African Americans).


Estimated New Cases and Deaths from Esophageal Cancer in the United States in 2024

  • New Cases: 22,370, an increase from the 21,560 estimated new cases in 2023
  • Deaths: 16,130, an increase the from 16,120 estimated deaths in 2023


    Esophageal Cancer Risk Factors

    Risk Factors for Squamous Cell Esophageal Cancer include the following:

  • Tobacco use.
  • Heavy alcohol use.
  • Being malnourished.
  • Being infected with human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • Having tylosis:
  • Having achalasia:
  • Having swallowed lye (a chemical found in some cleaning fluids).
  • Drinking very hot liquids on a regular basis.


    Risk Factors for Esophageal Adenocarcinoma include the following:

  • Having gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
  • Having Barret’s esophagus.
  • Having a history of using drugs that relax the lower esophageal sphincter (the ring of muscle that opens and closes the opening between the esophagus and stomach).
  • Being overweight.

Signs and Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer

  • Painful or difficult swallowing.
  • Weight loss.
  • Pain behind the breastbone.
  • Hoarseness and cough.
  • Indigestion and heartburn.
  • A lump under the skin.


Tests Used to Diagnose Esophageal Cancer

  • Physical exam and health history.
  • Chest x-ray.
  • Esophagoscopy.
  • Biopsy.


Why it Matters?

In most cases, esophageal cancer is a treatable but rarely curable disease. The five-year survival rate is 21.76%.


Patients have a better chance of recovery when esophageal cancer is found early. Only 18.1% of patients are diagnosed with esophageal cancer at the localized level. The five-year survival rate for this group of patients is 48.8%.


Signs and symptoms associated with esophageal cancer can also be present with other diseases. If you have any of the signs and symptoms mentioned in this article, discuss them with your doctor.



PDQ® Adult Treatment Editorial Board. PDQ Esophageal Cancer Treatment (Adult). Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Updated 2/6/2024. Available at: Accessed 04/03/2024. [PMID: 26389338]


PDQ® Screening and Prevention Editorial Board. PDQ Esophageal Cancer Prevention. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Updated 07/30/2021 Available at: Accessed 04/03/2024. [PMID: 26389280]


PDQ® Adult Treatment Editorial Board. PDQ Esophageal Center Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Updated 09/21/2023. Available at: Accesses 04/03/2024. [PMID: 26389463]

Article Author: Beth Cobb, RN, BSN, ACM, CCDS
Beth Cobb, RN, BSN, ACM, CCDS, is the Manager of Clinical Analytics at Medical Management Plus, Inc. Beth has over twenty-five years of experience in healthcare including eleven years in Case Management at a large multi-facility health system. In her current position, Beth is a principle writer for MMP’s Wednesday@One weekly e-newsletter, an active member of our HIPAA Compliance Committee, MMP’s Education Department Program Director and co-developer of MMP’s proprietary Compliance Protection Assessment Tool.

This material was compiled to share information.  MMP, Inc. is not offering legal advice. Every reasonable effort has been taken to ensure the information is accurate and useful.