Tumours (abnormal growths) of the oesophagus (gullet) are uncommon, however in Australia; the incidence of oesophageal cancers is growing faster than that of any other cancer. Most oesophageal tumours are malignant (cancerous). Only a small percentage is shown to be benign (not cancerous).
These tumours most commonly present with difficulty swallowing (usually a sensation of food sticking behind the breast bone) or chest pain. Less common symptoms include weight loss, appetite loss or heartburn. If you have these symptoms, it may be appropriate to have a gastroscopy , as early diagnosis leads to better outcomes.
Once a tumour in the oesophagus is found, it needs to be investigated appropriately to make an assessment of what type of tumour it is and what is the appropriate treatment, including whether it requires an operation.
Depending on the size and spread of the tumour, treatment options include removal with gastroscopy, removal with surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, or a combination of these. The operation to remove an oesophageal tumour is known as an ‘Oesophagectomy‘.
If the tumour does not require, or is not able to be removed with, an operation you can discuss with your surgeon the other appropriate management plan.