Oesophageal cancer is when abnormal cells in the food pipe (oesophagus) grow in an uncontrolled way. The oesophagus is also known as the gullet. It is the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. Most people are over the age of 60 when they are diagnosed. Around 8,900 people are diagnosed with oesophageal cancer each year in the UK. It’s become more common over the last 40 years. It’s the 14th most common cancer in adults.
The type of oesophageal cancer you have tells you the type of cell that the cancer started in. Knowing this helps your doctor decide which treatment you need.
Adenocarcinomas are cancers that develop in gland cells. These cells make mucus in the lining of the oesophagus. They mainly start in the lower part of the oesophagus and are the most common type of oesophageal cancer.
Squamous cell cancer
These cancers develop from cells that make up the inner lining of your oesophagus. They tend to develop in the upper and middle part of the oesophagus.
Squamous cells are resistant to hot liquids and sharp foods and can heal quickly if damaged. As cells are damaged new cells are made to replace them.
Undifferentiated means the specialist cannot tell what type of cell your cancer started from. This is usually because the cells are not mature enough to be specialised.
Specialisation of cells is called differentiation. So these primitive cancer cells are known as undifferentiated cancer cells.
For more information about research into oesophageal cancer visit https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/oeso...