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Feature Article

Oesophageal cancer: don’t miss the early signs

Nicholas Williams, Kai Brown

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Abstract

Oesophageal adenocarcinoma is becoming the more common of the two main types of oesophageal cancer with the increasing incidence mirroring the obesity epidemic. Risk factors include Barrett’s oesophagus and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, which can be recognised early and managed to prevent progression to cancer.

Key Points

  • Oesophageal cancer is the most rapidly increasing cancer diagnosis in Western countries.
  • Some of the major risk factors for oesophageal cancer are preventable.
  • Barrett’s oesophagus with high-grade dysplasia is a premalignant lesion.
  • Identifying patients who require upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and interpreting a histological diagnosis of Barrett’s oesophagus can be complex.
  • Red flags for oesophageal cancer are dysphagia, especially with weight loss, a significant family history, male sex or age older than 50 years.

    Picture credit: © KO Studios.

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