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Oesophageal cancer usually begins in the inner lining of the esophagus and spreads in an outward fashion. Over time, the tumor can grow to a state that it causes food and liquid to become stuck leading to painful, difficulty swallowing. Oesophageal cancer is often associated with low survival rates and a poor quality of life because it is often not diagnosed until it is in the later stages. Late diagnosis or mis-diagnosis of oesophagus cancer may be due to medical negligence and give rise to a personal injury compensation claim for damage and loss.

The most common form of oesophageal cancer is known as squamous cell carcinoma, and makes up about ninety five percent of all oesophageal cancer cases globally. The oesophagus is comprised of many flat, thin squamous cells that often look like shingles. Squamous cell carcinoma can begin at any point within the oesophagus but is most commonly found in the central portion.

Adenocarcinoma is on the rise and is becoming more common amongst while males in the western world. In fact, the incidence rate of adenocarcinoma is now equalizing with cases of squamous cell carcinoma. This form of the disease forms in the glandular tissue that is not usually found in the lining of the esophagus. Before adenocarcinoma forms, the squamous cells are replaced with glandular cells. This is often found in cases of Barrett�s esophagus, which is a precancerous condition that is caused by chronic acid reflux.

A very small percentage of oesophageal cancers are classified as lymphomas, sarcomas, or melanomas.

Cases of cancer of the oesophagus are growing in number globally; however they tend to affect more men than women. While more cases are seen in the western world, as previously stated, there are pockets of high cases in the Far East and east as well. This suggests there may be some correlation between cancer and environmental issues, and diet. The most common risk factors associated with oesophageal cancer include: a poor diet, drinking (especially higher proof alcohol), and smoking. There is little evidence that hereditary plays a role in this disease. People who suffer with acid reflux are also at a higher risk for developing the condition as tissue damage and erosion of the oesophagus can occur.


Symptoms associated with oesophageal cancer include: indigestion, difficulty swallowing, a feeling that food is stuck in the windpipe on the way to the stomach, weight loss, and in some cases a cough. Since all of these symptoms can also be a sign of other, less serious medical issues, it is not uncommon that oesophageal cancer is misdiagnosed. This often results in a final definitive diagnosis coming far too late, after the cancer has spread, leading to a smaller rate of survival. As with other types of cancer, the best possible prognosis comes when the disease is caught and treated early. When a misdiagnosis of oesophageal cancer has occurred, there are usually grounds for a medical negligence compensation claim against the medical professional or facility. Late diagnosis or mis-diagnosis of oesophagus cancer may be due to medical negligence and give rise to a personal injury compensation claim for damage and loss. Late diagnosis or mis-diagnosis of oesophagus cancer may be due to medical negligence and give rise to a personal injury compensation claim for damage and loss.

Oesophagus Cancer Medical Negligence Solicitors

Our team of medical negligence solicitors is skilled at handling these types of claims and can help you to receive the compensation you deserve. All of our cases are handled on a no win no fee* basis. We operate the no win no fee* scheme otherwise known as a conditional fee agreement. No legal charge is payable unless the legal case is won and the client obtains an award of compensation. In the event that the legal claim is lost there is no charge made to the client. We are happy to provide free consultations and never require any type of obligation should you decide you do not want to pursue your claim. Please contact us today by using the contact form on this website, by email, or by phone to find out how we can help.

Oesophagus Cancer Overview

Oesophageal cancer happens when cells of the oesophagus mutate and form cells that grow constantly, never dying. The oesophagus is a long hollow tube that connects the pharynx to the stomach and allows food to pass through after swallowing. The cancer usually begins in the lining of the oesophagus and can occur anywhere along the oesophagus. In the US, cancer usually occurs in men and in the bottom part of the oesophagus. It is much more common in Asia and in parts of Africa.

Signs and symptoms of oesophageal cancer include the following:

  • Unintended weight loss
  • Problems swallowing
  • Worsening indigestion or heartburn
  • Chest pressure or burning pain
  • Coughing or hoarseness

The exact causes of oesophageal cancer are not clear. It is felt to be secondary to mutations in the DNA of oesophageal cells. There are two main types of oesophageal cancer: adenocarcinoma, which begins in the mucus-secreting glands of the esophagus and squamous cell carcinoma, which begins in the flat cells of the middle oesophagus. There are other rare types of oesophageal cancer, such as sarcoma, lymphoma, and small cell cancer.

It is believed that chronic oesophageal cancer irritation contributes to the DNA changes causing oesophageal cancer. Some irritations include:

  • Having bile reflux
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Having difficulty swallowing
  • Drinking hot fluids
  • Not eating fruits and vegetables
  • Having gastro-oesophageal reflux disease
  • Being overweight
  • Having Barrett�s oesophagus�precancerous changes
  • Having upper body radiation
  • Having a smoking history
  • Complications of oesophageal cancer as it progresses include obstruction of the oesophagus, chronic pain from spasm in the oesophagus, and bleeding in the oesophagus.

There are tests doctors can perform that help in the diagnosis of oesophageal cancer. These include Endoscopy, which involves a lighted camera that looks inside the oesophagus and can take biopsies of samples of the tissue.

Staging of oesophageal cancer helps determine outcome and treatment of the cancer. Various tests go into determining the staging of oesophageal cancer, including CT scan, MRI scan or PET scan of the body. The stages of oesophageal cancer include:

  • Stage I. The cancer is only in the superficial cell layers of the oesophagus.
  • Stage II. The cancer involves deep layers of the oesophagus and possibly nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage III. The cancer is in the deepest tissues of the oesophagus and lymph nodes or nearby tissue.
  • Stage IV. The cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Treatment of oesophageal cancer involves surgery to remove very small tumours or a part of the oesophagus or the part of the oesophagus nearest the stomach and part of the stomach. Surgery to remove part of the oesophagus can be very dangerous and is done as an open procedure in the OR. There is a high risk of leakage and other complications.

Radiation therapy is often used for oesophageal cancer. It can unblock a blockage of the oesophagus�at least for a period of time. Chemotherapy can get rid of cancer cells in patients with metastatic disease. While, the patient is being treated, they receive parenteral nutrition, which is nutrition provided by IV. They can also receive nutrition through tubes in the jejunum.

Often, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are combined for maximum effectiveness. While it is effective, it also increases the risk of side effects. Patients are sicker while undergoing both chemotherapy and radiotherapy but their chances of survival are greater. Radiation therapy is often done in an external beam fashion and is directed toward the oesophageal cancer an any major lymph nodes.

Even so, the rate of survival of oesophageal cancer is low. It is often found at later stages and it is an aggressive form of cancer, with few really good treatments to go with it.


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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here