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The esophagus is the tube that carries food from your throat to your stomach. An esophageal tumor can appear anywhere along the lining inside the esophagus.

As the tumor grows into the esophageal muscle, it can spread to nearby organs, including the throat and stomach (metastasize). Esophageal cancer cells found in distant parts of the body are diagnosed as stage IV esophageal cancer.

Esophageal cancer is the sixth leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. It is a rare type of cancer and makes up 1% of cancer deaths in the United States. Men are three times more likely than women to be diagnosed with esophageal cancer. The risk increases over age 45.

Causes

The cause of esophageal cancer is unknown. Risk factors include smoking, alcoholism, drinking very hot coffee or tea, obesity, acid reflux (GERD), esophagitis (irritation caused by acid), Barrett's esophagus, poor diet that lacks fruits and vegetables.

Symptoms of esophageal cancer

Early symptoms are usually non-existent or mild and may include dry throat, hoarse voice, frequently clearing your throat, and mild weight loss.

As the disease progresses, symptoms include throat pain and difficulty swallowing, food coming back up, choking on food, chest pain, unexplained weight loss, swollen neck glands, dry cough, coughing up blood or vomiting.

Other symptoms include:

  • Indigestion
  • Passing gas (flatulence)
  • Bloating abdomen
  • Belching
  • Heartburn
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic cough
  • Hiccups
  • Diagnosing esophageal cancer

    Tests for diagnosing esophageal cancer include endoscopy, barium swallow, biopsy, CT scan or PET scan.

    Treatment

    Chemotherapy or radiation therapy are standard treatments to shrink tumors. Doctors may also recommend surgery to remove tumors if the tumors are small and haven't spread from the original site.

    Prognosis

    The prognosis for esophageal cancer is good with early detection and prompt treatment.

    This has been your Medical Minute.
     
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    MediaPunch / BACKGRID

    Singer Kelis' husband, photographer Mike Mora is documenting his battle with stage 4 stomach cancer on his Instagram page.

    Mora shared his cancer fight in a series of Instagram posts from his hospital bed. In one post he wrote that his stage 4 stomach cancer was diagnosed "just in time."

    Mora, 36, said he began experiencing back pain and a loss of appetite after moving with his family to a farm outside Los Angeles a year ago.

    After seeing several specialists, Mora was diagnosed with gastric adenocarcinoma. He was told the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes in his back.

    "This picture was taken as I was being transferred to the oncology section of UCLA Santa Monica from nearby Ronald Reagan hospital," he captioned an Instagram post.

    "This gentleman, Latin brotha, saw how weak I was. He looked back at me before leaving my room and said, 'I've seen people make it out of the craziest situations, be strong brotha, you got this.' I'll never forget his face."

    MediaPunch / BACKGRID

    Mora also said his doctor told him he had only 18 months to live. "They said 18 months. It's been exactly 12," he wrote.

    He shared words of wisdom with his Instagram followers.

    "You always see people post about how life is too short. How you should reach out to those you love no matter where life has taken you. It is the truth. Don't take your time here, your time with friends, family, for granted. Shit can be over just like that!"

    Photo may have been deleted

    Instagram

    Mora and Kelis were married in 2014. They have two children together - a 2-year-old daughter and a son, 6.

    Kelis, 42, shares a 12-year-old son with rapper Nas. They divorced in 2010 after 5 years of marriage.
     

    Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

    Model Slick Woods is undergoing chemotherapy treatment for stage three melanoma cancer. The Love & Hip-Hop: Hollywood cast member announced she was undergoing chemotherapy for stage 3 melanoma cancer on Wednesday.

    The Fenty Beauty model, real name Simone Marie Thompson, is best known for her signature bald head and gapped front teeth.

    Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty

    She shared an Instagram photo of herself sticking out her tongue while hanging out with her boyfriend Micky Munday and some friends. "How I feel about chemotherapy, shout out to everyone that gotta go through it #atleastimalreadybald," the 23 year old wrote in the accompanying caption. Woods joined the LHH franchise last year when she began dating Munday.

    Woods told The Shade Room Instagram blog she was battling stage three melanoma cancer, meaning her cancer has spread to her lymph nodes. TSR added the star is "fighting for her life”.

    While she didn't share the location of her cancer, melanomas typical involve the skin cells, such as in melanocyte cells, aka melanin-producing cells. It can appear on women's breasts, ears, arms, back and legs, but it can also occur in the mouth or mucous membranes, such as the vagina, intestines or bowels.

    Skin melanoma is more dangerous because the cancer can spread quickly to other organs in the body if not treated early.

    Risk factors for melanoma of the breasts include family history of breast cancer, exposure to the sun, friction caused by tight bras, age and inherited genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, starting periods early, starting menopause after age 55.

    Woods' fans rushed to send their well wishes to the beauty following her initial post, but Slick took to her Instagram Stories to urge followers not to pity her, declaring: "Stop treating me like a victim."

    Meanwhile, celebrity pals including Taraji P. Henson also sent supportive messages, with the Empire star penning: "You are already on the other side of this heathy (sic) and strong like it never happened. I adore you."

    Power actress La La Anthony also wrote: "Love u sis."

    prostate cancer

    Music industry veteran Joe Simpson, father of pop singers Jessica Simpson and Ashlee Simpson, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He underwent surgery to remove his prostate gland after being diagnosed two months ago.

    Page Six reports the 56-year-old photographer has already returned to work.

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