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All you need to know about esophageal cancer

Blocking two molecular pathways that send signals inside cancer cells could stave off esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC). © Shutterstock

According to a new study, blocking two molecular pathways that send signals inside cancer cells can stave off esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC). Here, we brief you about it + list out few preventive measures.

Written by Editorial Team |Updated : February 28, 2019 4:23 PM IST

A study published in the Gastroenterology pointed out that two signaling pathways (controlled by JNK and TGF-beta proteins, respectively) as contributing to EAC tumours. The pathways represent molecular chain reactions that were overactive in patient tumour cells, but not in biopsies from patients with non-cancerous esophageal conditions, along with Barrett's Esophagus. And do you know that the harmful effects of these pathways could be reduced by turning down JNK or TGF-beta activity? According to the senior author Kishore Guda, DVM, PhD, associate professor in the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, these findings suggest a rationale for testing JNK/TGF-beta-targeted therapies as a new treatment approach in this increasingly lethal cancer. Patients tend to struggle in order to swallow as tumours and cancer cells narrow their esophagus. Some require nasogastric feeding tubes in the end stages.

While limited available treatments to shrink tumours include surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy, but the majority of EAC tumours are resistant. While this newly identified drug can surely open the door for esophageal cancer therapeutics, we all tell you what exactly it is and how you can keep it at bay.

What is esophageal cancer?

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The esophagus can be termed as a hollow muscular tube which is responsible for moving food from the throat to the stomach. Esophageal cancer is cancer which tends to occur in your esophagus a long, hollow tube that runs from your throat up to your stomach. Your esophagus will help you move the food which you have swallowed from the back of your throat to your stomach to be digested. It usually begins in the cells which line the inside of your esophagus. Esophageal cancer can occur anywhere along your esophagus.

The symptoms:

Unintentional weight loss, indigestion, heartburn, difficulty while swallowing, choking frequently while eating, vomiting, food coming back up your esophagus, experiencing chest pain, fatigue and hiccups are some of the symptoms which one may experience.

The cause:

The exact cause of this cancer is not known but experts believe that s believed it is to be associated with abnormalities (mutations) in one's DNA of the cells related to the esophagus. These mutations tend to signal the cells to multiply more rapidly than those normal cells. Also, these mutations may disrupt the signal for these cells to die when they should. So, this tends to cause them to accumulate and become tumours.

Who is at the risk of it:

Alcohol intake, smoking, having a reflux disorder, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), being overweight, not eating enough fruits and vegetables, having achalasia, (which is a condition where your muscle at the bottom of your esophagus doesn t relax properly), are some of the risk factors.

The treatment:

Treatment may vary from person to person. So, just consult your doctor in case you notice symptoms like difficulty in swallowing, vomiting and frequent choking while eating.

Follow these preventive tips:

You must quit smoking. If you tend to smoke, speak to your doctor about strategies which can help you get rid of it. Counseling can help you quit.

You must cut down on alcohol: According to a study published in the journal BMC cancer, alcohol can put you at the risk of esophageal cancer. So, avoid drinking it.

You must opt for fruits and vegetables: So, eat colourful fruits and vegetables and try to also opt for whole grains.

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