Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Cancer Esophageal Underlying Cause

The cause of esophageal cancer is unknown, but genetics may play a role in determining risk.

Genes control the functions inside a cell. Special genes control how cells divide and grow. Cancer occurs when the damaged genes stimulate the cell to multiply out of control. The exact cause for this damage is unknown.


  • DNA
  • Genes on chromosomes
  • Cancer cells
  • Cancer cell division

Cancer cells can develop from any tissues inside the esophagus: the lining, glands or muscles. The cells can spread through the lymphatic system or the bloodstream. Esophageal cancer spreads most commonly to the lungs and liver.

Continue to Cancer Esophageal Anatomy

Last Updated: Mar 26, 2009 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Cancer Esophageal References
  1. Avidan B, Sonnenberg A, Schnell TG, Chejfec G, Metz A, Sontag SJ. Hiatal hernia size, Barrett's length, and severity of acid reflux are all risk factors for esophageal adenocarcinoma Am J Gastroenterol. 2002 Aug;97(8):1930-6. [12190156]
  2. Lightdale CJ, Kulkarni KG. Role of endoscopic ultrasonography in the staging and follow-up of esophageal cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2005 Jul 10;23(20):4483-9. [16002838]
  3. Shaheen N, Ransohoff DF. Gastroesophageal reflux, barrett esophagus, and esophageal cancer: scientific review. JAMA. 2002 Apr 17;287(15):1972-81. [11960540]
  4. Stathopoulos GP, Tsiaras N. Epidemiology and pathogenesis of esophageal cancer: management and its controversial results (review). Oncol Rep. 2003 Mar-Apr;10(2):449-54. [12579288]
  5. Wong R, Malthaner R. Esophageal cancer: a systematic review. Curr Probl Cancer. 2000 Nov-Dec;24(6):297-373. [11198836]
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