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Screening and Prevention

Depending upon which type of esophageal cancer is involved, the risk factors in the United States differ.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

The following factors can contribute to the development of squamous cell carcinoma:

  • Tobacco smoking

  • Heavy alcohol use

  • Infection with Human Papilloma Virus

  • Achalasia - benign motor disorder of the esophagus

  • Injury causing chronic scarring of the esophagus

  • Tylosis - rare genetic disorder that causes inflammation of the esophagus


The risk factors for adenocarcinoma are not as well understood.

Barrett's esophagus is the primary risk factor for adenocarcinoma. In this condition, chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) causes damage to the tissue in the lining of the lower part of the esophagus, resulting in abnormal cells to form that may lead to cancer.

Approximately 10% of people who suffer from GERD develop Barrett's esophagus, while 1% of these patients will develop esophageal adenocarcinoma.

Obesity is also a considered a risk factor.

Screening of patients with a history of Barrett's esophagus or chronic GERD is performed at NYU Medical Center using endoscopy.