Esophageal Cancer

Cancer of the esophagus is divided into two major types: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma, depending on the type of cells that are malignant.

Squamous cell carcinomas arise in cells that line the upper two-thirds of the esophagus. Adenocarcinomas usually develop in the glandular tissue in the lower part of the esophagus. The treatment of these types may be similar but depends upon the details of each individual case.

Early esophageal cancer usually does not cause symptoms. However, as the cancer grows, symptoms may include:

  • Difficult or painful swallowing
  • Severe weight loss
  • Pain in the throat or back, behind the breastbone or between the shoulder blades
  • Hoarseness or chronic cough
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing up blood
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.