Types Of Esophageal Cancer

The esophagus can be divided into thirds: proximal or neck; middle or chest; lower or abdominal.  Most cancers of the upper two thirds of the esophagus arise from squamous cells and are called squamous cell or epidermoid cancers. Cancers of the lower esophagus are called adenocarcinomas and arise in pre-cancerous cells caused by heartburn or GERD.

There are clear differences in the profiles of patients with squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma of the esophagus.  Esophageal adenocarcinoma is more common in white males and is strongly associated with a history of chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).  It also tends to occur at a younger age (50-60).  In contrast, squamous cell carcinoma is more common in minority populations including Asian Americans and African Americans, and is also more strongly linked to tobacco and alcohol use.

Understanding the Disease
The Esophagus
Risk Factors