Two Types of Esophageal Cancer


What I did not know about these two cancer types, squamous and adenocarcinoma, I recently learned because of new studies. Why does this matter?

It matters. In the year 2000, when my husband received his Stage III Adenocarcinoma diagnosis, EC was the fastest growing cancer in the United States and one of the most hardened diseases to survive long-term. So, what is the difference between squamous and adenocarcinoma?

Both cancers involve the esophagus, but the molecular makeup differ enough that they should, I read, be considered separate diseases. 

I am only familiar with my late husband’s adenocarcinoma at the stomach junction caused by the many years he experienced acid reflux.

From what I have read from a physician-scientist at Dana-Faber, the upper EC tumors closer resemble head-neck tumors. The tumors found lower down the esophagus resemble stomach cancer characteristics.

I understand the stomach cancer grouping. My father-in-law,  as far as I know, was never diagnosed with EC, but he had a good portion of his stomach removed. His brother, however, late in life, died from EC adenocarcinoma.

Our youngest son, born with acid reflux, and now a husband and Dad continue to be monitored.  Because of the line of family members stricken, I think heredity might be involved with this cancer. It is just my observation. 

Researchers note that it is more relevant to the tumor’s molecular makeup than whether the tumor’s location is in the upper or lower esophagus. Perhaps these studies showing a difference in the upper and lower molecular characteristic of EC tumors will bring new treatments and most relevant new hope to folks stricken with this brutal cancer, especially since adenocarcinoma cases have skyrocketed during the past forty years.