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Treatment of Esophagus Cancer

Posted by on Thursday, August 27, 2009, 11:42
This news item was posted in Cancer category and has 0 Comments so far.

Cancer of the Esophagus is relatively rare in western world, but has a high incidence in certain parts of the Middle East and Turkey, where dietary habits involve the frequent swallowing of very hot drinks, suggesting that this cancer may be causally related to repeated local injury to the all lining.

It also has a particularly high incidence in certain provinces on China where traditional methods of grain storage result in a high carcinogenic nitrosamine content on the grain. It tends in the Western world to be a disease of males, and it notably more common in American blacks than in America whites.

The symptoms are usually clear cut mechanical difficulty in swallowing, with a sensation of food sticking in the gullet, and as the illness progresses difficulty in swallowing even liquids, regurgitation of clean undigested food, and fairly rapid weight loss from simple starvation.

The overall results of conventional treatments for esophagus cancer are quite abysmal, with less than 4 percent of such patients surviving five years after first diagnosis. The tumor tends to spread to the liver, but the patient usually dies from starvation rather than from widespread metastatic disease.

The methods of treatment available are surgical removal of the affected segment of esophagus, a difficult procedure involving a high degree of risk, and accurately directed radiotherapy, which occasionally proves to be remarkably successful.

There is a lighter side to this dismal picture. The disease tends to be one of the elderly, and the tumor itself tends to be relatively slow growing, causing more mischief from local obstruction than from its spread. The mechanical problem can be overcome by the simple palliative procedure of incubation the insert of a semi rigid plastic tube through the tumor.

This minor operation, which can often be done through an esophagoscope without the need for any external incision, completely relieves the patients swallowing difficulties, and he may live thereafter in relative comfort for many months or even some years.

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