Oesophageal Cancer is an uncommon cancer in Australia. It is most often associated with long-term reflux and Barrett’s Oesophagus. It is more common in heavy drinkers and heavy smokers, but it is known that after cessation the risk begins to fall.
Symptoms of oesophageal cancer are typically related to difficulty swallowing, initially with solid food and eventually with fluids as well. It is important to understand that difficulty swallowing may also be related to a number of other conditions and people with these symptoms should see their doctor.
After a diagnosis of oesophageal cancer is made, a number of further tests will be performed to help determine the best treatment for an individual patient. These tests may include some or all of, a laparoscopy (keyhole surgery), a repeat gastroscopy (telescope camera test down the gullet), a CT scan and a PET scan. Treatment may include chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery, and the treatment will be tailored to each individual patient after discussing their case with a variety of relevant cancer specialists. Oesophagectomy involves removal of the cancer-affected oesophagus and then reconstructing the oesophagus, usually by dragging the stomach up to the remaining oesophagus through a combination of surgery through the abdomen and the chest.