Oesophageal cancer accounts for just two percent of all possible cancers, making it one of the rarer forms of the disease. Around 600 people are diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in Switzerland every year. Around three quarters of all oesophageal cancer patients are men.
The oesophagus is the part of the gastrointestinal tract that transports food from the throat to the stomach using involuntary, wave-like muscle contractions. Oesophageal cancer can occur anywhere in the oesophagus. Depending on what type of cells the cancer originates from, medicine differentiates between squamous cell carcinomas and adenocarcinomas. Squamous cell carcinomas are often located in the upper two thirds of the oesophagus and stem from cells in the surface of the mucous membrane. Adenocarcinoma are often located in the lower third of the oesophagus and originate from mucosal gland cells that are slightly deeper in the mucous membrane.