Find out more about oesophageal cancer, including how common it is and ways to reduce your risk
In 2019, 9,296 cases of oesophageal cancer were diagnosed in the UK*. Oesophageal cancer affects men disproportionately – almost 6,500 of those cases were men, with less than 3,000 in women.
The oesophagus is also known as the gullet or foodpipe. It’s a tube that carries food and drink from your throat to your stomach. It’s found between the windpipe and the spine.
In an adult, the oesophagus is roughly 25–30cm (10–12 inches) long and cancer can develop anywhere along its length.
There are two main types of oesophageal cancer:
There are lots of different reasons why oesophageal cancer develops – some of the most important are your diet and lifestyle choices.
As with all cancers, the risk of developing oesophageal cancer depends on a number of factors and varies from person to person.
If any of these risk factors apply to you, it does not mean that you will develop oesophageal cancer – it just means that your risk may be higher than average.
The positive news is that there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. These steps are based on the findings from our Global Cancer Update Programme (CUP Global).
There’s strong evidence that drinking alcohol is a cause of oesophageal cancer. Find out more about the link between alcohol and cancer or find out how many calories are in alcoholic drinks by using our alcohol calorie calculator. Or why not browse our recipes for some inspirational mocktail ideas?
Being a healthy weight is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself against cancer. Try our body mass index calculator and waist measurement guide to check if you are a healthy weight and shape.
CANCER HEALTH CHECK
Answer a few simple questions to find out how your lifestyle could be making you attractive to cancer
What changes could you make to your life to reduce your risk of getting cancer?