Esophageal cancer 

Esophageal cancer arises in tissues lining the esophagus, which is the hollow, muscular tube that moves food and liquid from the throat to the stomach. The wall of the esophagus is made up of several layers including mucous membrane, muscle and connective tissue. In 2014 there were more than 18,000 new cases of esophageal cancer in the United States.

What is Esophageal Cancer?

The two most common forms of esophageal cancer are named for the type of cell that becomes cancerous and potentially malignant, spreading to other sites in the body.

  • Squamous cell carcinoma (also called epidermoid carcinoma) arises from squamous (skin) cells, the thin, flat cells lining the esophagus.  This particular type of cancer is most often found in the upper and middle part of the esophagus, but can occur anywhere along the esophagus.
  • Adenocarcinoma begins in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids and usually form in the lower part of the esophagus, near the stomach.


How Can Houston Methodist Help?

Many disorders of the esophagus are not cancerous , including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and esophageal motility disorders.

When esophageal cancer is found early there is a better chance of recovery, although it is often diagnosed in an advanced stage. At later stages, esophageal cancer can be treated but rarely can be cured.

Learn more about screening for and the diagnosis of esophageal cancer.


Our physicians specialize in managing esophageal cancer at the following convenient Houston Methodist Cancer Center locations.