Esophageal Cancer

Wickii Vigneswaran, MD, MBA, FACS

Thoracic Surgeon located in Maywood, IL & Elmhurst, IL

Approximately 1% of cancers diagnosed in the United States are in the esophagus, and they require specialized care. In Maywood, Illinois, Wickii Vigneswaran, MD, has more than 25 years of experience in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery and specializes in the treatment of esophageal cancer. To find the most advanced esophageal cancer therapy solutions available, call Wickii Vigneswaran, MD, or schedule an appointment online today.

Esophageal Cancer Q & A

What is esophageal cancer?

Esophageal cancer develops in your esophagus, the long tube that connects your throat to your stomach. When esophageal cancer develops in this area, it generally begins in the cells lining the inside of your esophagus.

There are different types of esophageal cancer. The most common are adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. The adenocarcinoma affects the mucus-secreting glands of the esophagus, and squamous cell carcinoma impacts the cells lining the surface of your esophagus.

Anyone can develop esophageal cancer, but it’s more common in men than women.

What causes esophageal cancer?

The exact cause of esophageal cancer isn’t known, but certain factors can increase your risk, such as:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Smoking or using chewing tobacco
  • Drinking alcohol or high quantities of very hot liquids
  • Consuming a diet low in fruits and vegetables
  • Undergoing radiation treatment to your upper abdomen or chest

Having esophageal issues like a sphincter that won’t relax or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also increase your chances of esophageal cancer.

What are the symptoms of esophageal cancer?

In the earliest stages of esophageal cancer, you may not have any symptoms. As your condition advances, common signs include:

  • Persistent cough or hoarseness
  • Burning, pressure, or pain in your chest
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Unexplained weight loss

You might also have heartburn or indigestion symptoms that grow increasingly worse.

How is esophageal cancer diagnosed?

Generally, Dr. Vigneswaran recommends a variety of tests, including an endoscopy to examine your esophagus using a small video camera, and takes a biopsy of any suspicious tissue.

Dr. Vigneswaran also determines the extent of your cancer through tests that may include CT, MRI, endoscopic ultrasound (EUS), and positron emission tomography (PET) scans.

Esophageal cancer stages range from I to IV. If you have stage I esophageal cancer, only superficial layers of your esophagus are affected, and your cancer is still small. The most advanced stage of esophageal cancer is stage IV, by which point it has spread to other areas of your body. Stage I-III are considered for surgical resection.

How is esophageal cancer treated?

Dr. Vigneswaran works closely with you to develop a treatment plan based on your type of cancer, overall health, and your esophageal cancer stage. In most cases, Dr. Vigneswaran recommends surgery to remove small tumors, a portion of the esophagus, or a portion of your esophagus and stomach.

Additional therapies for esophageal cancer include chemotherapy and radiation.

Call Wickii Vigneswaran, MD, or schedule an appointment online today to learn more if you’re in the Chicago area.