Shaving off Cancer
According to the National Cancer Institute, esophageal or throat cancer, is a cancer that forms in tissues lining the esophagus, the muscular tube through which food passes from the throat to the stomach. There are two types of esophagus cancer: one that begins in flat cells lining the esophagus and the other that begins in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids.
Symptoms can be as common as heartburn, but most symptoms include difficulty swallowing, losing weight without trying, chest pains and fatigue. It's not clear what causes esophageal cancer. It occurs when cells in your esophagus develop errors in their DNA. The errors make cells grow and divide out of control. It's estimated that more than 16,000 Americans will be diagnosed with esophagus cancer in 2010 and that there will be more than 14,000 deaths as a result of this. What treatments you receive for esophageal cancer are based on the type of cells involved in your cancer, your cancer's stage, your overall health, and your own preferences for treatment. The most common forms of treatment include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
Researchers at Mayo Clinic are taking a less-invasive approach to stop the cancer before it spreads. This approach is called Endoscopic Mucosal Resection. According to Mayoclinic.com, EMR is a procedure to remove cancerous or other abnormal tissues from the digestive tract. A long, narrow tube equipped with a light, video camera and other instruments is passed down the throat to reach an abnormality in the esophagus, stomach or upper part of the small intestine. If cancer is present, EMR can help determine if the cancer has invaded tissues beneath the digestive tract lining. Studies showed that the new, less-invasive treatment was just as effective as removing the esophagus for early-staged cancers. Patients who undergo full removal spend days in the hospital and face lifelong eating restrictions, while the new procedure is an outpatient procedure. Patients can eat full meals two days later. Typically, a follow-up exam is performed three months after your procedure to be sure the lesion was removed. Depending on what is found, your doctor will decide when further examinations are necessary.