Risk factors for esophageal cancer include:
- Age: People between the ages of 45 and 70 are at greatest risk. Most people who develop esophageal cancer are over age 60.
- Gender: Men are nearly three times more likely than women to develop esophageal cancer.
- Race: People of African American decent are twice as likely as Caucasians to develop esophageal cancer.
- Tobacco use: Using any form of tobacco, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco and snuff, raises the risk of esophageal cancer.
- Alcohol use: Heavy drinking over the long term increases the risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus, especially when combined with tobacco use.
- Barrett’s esophagus: This condition can develop in some people who have chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus), even when a person does not experience symptoms of chronic heartburn. Damage to the lining of the esophagus causes abnormal changes in cells. This is a premalignant condition that is most likely to develop into adenocarcinoma of the esophagus.
- Diet: A diet that is low in fruits and vegetables and certain vitamins and minerals can increase a person’s risk of developing esophageal cancer.
- Obesity: Being severely overweight and having an excess of body fat can increase a person’s risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma.
- Lye ingestion: Lye ingestion by children is associated with an increase in squamous cell carcinoma. Lye can be found in some cleansing products, such as drain cleaners.
- Achalasia: Achalasia is a condition when the lower muscular ring of the esophagus fails to relax during swallowing of food and increases the risk of squamous cell carcinoma.
- Medical History: Patients who have had other head and neck cancers have an increased chance of developing a second cancer in the head and neck area, including esophageal cancer.
Last updated: 5/26/2010 3:10:32 PM