What is oesophageal cancer?

Oesophageal cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the oesophagus grow in an uncontrolled way.

The oesophagus is a long tube through which food and drink pass as they travel from the mouth to the stomach. Cancer begins in the mucosal cells lining the oesophagus. The main types of oesophageal cancer are squamous cell carcinoma (more common in the middle and upper parts of the oesophagus) and adenocarcinoma (more common in the lower part of the oesophagus). In developed countries such as Australia, most oesophageal cancers start in the lower part of the oesophagus, where it meets the stomach.

If oesophageal cancer is not treated early, it can spread through the wall of the oesophagus into nearby structures. It can also spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver.