Oesophageal Cancer

Prof. John Reynolds

Consultant Surgeon, Upper GI

Consultant Image

St. James’s Hospital was recently designated as the National Centre for Oesophageal and Gastric Cancer and the National Centre for Management of Early Upper Gastrointestinal Mucosal Neoplasia.

The hospital manages approximately 65% of oesophageal surgical resections nationally.

Cure rates are improving, with overall survival at 35%, 65% for nodenegative disease, and 75% for Stage I/II disease, outcomes consistent with best international benchmarks.

What is Oesophageal Cancer?

The oesophagus is part of the digestive system.  It links the tube from your throat to your stomach.  When you eat the muscles in your oesophagus push the food down into your stomach. 

The wall of the oesophagus has several layers, the inner layer or lining, the submucosa, the muscle layer, and the outer layer.

Oesophageal cancer happens when cells in the oesophagus change and grow in an abnormal way.  Usually the tumour does not cause symptoms at first but as it grows it can cause difficulty with swallowing. 

The causes of oesophageal cancer include:

Age, gender (more common in men than women, smoking, alcohol, acid reflux, Barrett’s oesophagus (inflamed cells due to acid reflex), Achalasia, Obesity and poor diet.

Symptoms of oesophageal cancer are:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Indigestion or heartburn that doesn’t go away
  • Poor appetite
  • Pain in your throat, breastbone
  • Hoarse voice
  • Frequent hiccoughs or belching
  • Frequent coughing
  • Weight loss