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Oesophageal cancer is a type of cancer affecting the oesophagus (gullet) – the long tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach.
It mainly affects people in their 60s and 70s and is more common in men than women.
This page covers:
Oesophageal cancer doesn't usually cause any symptoms in the early stages when the tumour is small. It's only when it gets bigger that symptoms tend to develop.
Symptoms of oesophageal cancer can include:
Read more about the symptoms of oesophageal cancer.
See your GP if you experience:
The symptoms can be caused by several conditions and in many cases won't be caused by cancer – but it's a good idea to get them checked out.
If your GP thinks you need to have some tests, they can refer you to a hospital specialist.
Read about how oesophageal cancer is diagnosed.
The exact cause of oesophageal cancer is unknown, but the following things can increase your risk:
Stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol, losing weight and having a healthy diet may help reduce your risk of developing oesophageal cancer.
Read more about the causes of oesophageal cancer.
If oesophageal cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, it may be possible to cure it with:
If oesophageal cancer is diagnosed at a later stage, a cure may not be achievable.
But in these cases, surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy can be used to help keep the cancer under control and relieve any symptoms you have.
The outlook for oesophageal cancer varies depending on things such as how far it has spread, your age and your general health.
If it's detected while it's still quite small, it may be possible to get rid of it completely.
But as oesophageal cancer doesn't usually cause any symptoms until a late stage, it has often spread quite far by the time it's diagnosed.
Cancer Research UK has more information about oesophageal cancer survival statistics.