About Oesophagus (gullet) cancer

What is the oeosphagus?

The oesophagus is a long muscular tube that connects your throat with your stomach. It is about 12 inches long in adults.The back of your throat splits into two tubes, your airway (trachea) and your oesophagus. Your airway connects your mouth and nose to your lungs and allows you to breathe. It is connected to the top of your oesophagus. When you swallow, your oesophagus tightens and relaxes, pushing food down to your stomach. A valve at the top of your oesophagus stops food from going into your lungs.

What is cancer of the oesophagus?

When cancer develops in the oesophagus, the cells change and grow in an abnormal way to form a tumour. Cancer can develop anywhere in the oesophagus.
Usually the tumour does not cause symptoms at first, but as it grows it can cause difficulty with swallowing. Cancer cells sometimes break away from the tumour and can spread to other parts of your body.

How common is cancer of the oesophagus?

On average, 430 people are diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in Ireland each year. Almost twice as many men get the disease as women.