Welcome to ESOCAN – a website (currently early in development) dedicated to the prevention and control of esophageal cancer. For the time being, it is focused on esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC), which is the most common type of esophageal cancer in the U.S. and many other westernized countries. As resources permit, it will be expanded to include esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), which is the most common type worldwide.
The esophagus is a muscular tube that carries food from the back of the mouth (pharynx) to the stomach. It is normally lined by squamous cell cells, which can give rise to cancers occurring anywhere in the esophagus. In a process termed metaplasia, the squamous cell lining can be transformed into columnar cells, which are similar to the lining of the small intestine; this usually occurs under conditions of chronic gastroesophageal reflux (e.g., heartburn or acid regurgitation) and is termed Barrett’s esophagus. Most (but probably not all) EAC arise in Barrett’s epithelium within the lower one-third of the esophagus.
In 2018, it is estimated that more than 550,000 new cases of esophageal cancer will have occurred worldwide, making it the seventh most commonly occurring cancer and the sixth most common cause of cancer death.1 In less developed regions, squamous cell carcinoma is by far the most common histological type. In contrast, the United States and much of Western Europe and Australia has seen a remarkable rise in the incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma over (EAC) which has transformed it from a relative rarity in the 1970s to the most common histological type of esophageal cancer today.2–5
EAC is most common among white males, although incidence rates in other groups also have risen. Unfortunately, the vast majority of affected individuals are not diagnosed with esophageal cancer until a late stage, and, regardless of histological tumor type, most succumb within a year of diagnosis. Therefore, preventing the cancer and detecting it at an early stage remain the most effective options.
- Cancer today. Available at: http://gco.iarc.fr/today/home. (Accessed: 19th November 2018)
- Hur, C. et al. Trends in esophageal adenocarcinoma incidence and mortality. Cancer 119, 1149–58 (2013).
- Islami, F., DeSantis, C. E. & Jemal, A. Incidence Trends of Esophageal and Gastric Cancer Subtypes by Race, Ethnicity, and Age in the United States, 1997-2014. Clin. Gastroenterol. Hepatol. Off. Clin. Pract. J. Am. Gastroenterol. Assoc. (2018). doi:10.1016/j.cgh.2018.05.044
- Malhotra, G. K. et al. Global trends in esophageal cancer. J. Surg. Oncol. 115, 564–579 (2017).
- Xie, S.-H. & Lagergren, J. Risk factors for oesophageal cancer. Best Pract. Res. Clin. Gastroenterol. (2018). doi:10.1016/j.bpg.2018.11.008