I knew the two main types of esophageal cancer I knew, Squamous and Adenocarcinoma.
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 because EC is the fastest growing cancer in the United States and one of the toughest cancers survivable 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 imagine clarifying the genomics of EC would benefit new folks newly diagnosed going forward.
I am only familiar with my late husband’s adenocarcinoma at the stomach junction caused from his years of experiencing acid reflux.
To put it simply what I read from a physician-scientist at Dana-Faber, a co-leader of The Cancer Gnome Atlas, the upper EC tumors closer resemble head-neck tumors. And the tumors found lower down the esophagus resemble a stomach cancer characteristics.
I understand the stomach cancer grouping. My husband’s dad was never, as far as I know, diagnosed with EC, but he had a good portion of his stomach removed. His brother, late in life died from adenocarcinoma. Our youngest son who was born with acid reflux, now a husband and Dad continues 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 important new hope to folks stricken with this cancer, especially since adenocarcinoma cases have skyrocketed during the past forty years.