Welcome to ESOCAN

An educational resource dedicated to the
prevention and control of esophageal cancer.

Each year over 600,000 people in the world are diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Unfortunately most do not survive more than a year, making it the sixth most common cause of cancer-related death. Much is known about the risk and protective factors for this cancer, providing opportunities for prevention through

  • avoiding causative exposures,
  • engaging in healthy activities,
  • chemoprevention, and
  • screening for precancerous conditions (in some cases)

Cancer-related mortality worldwide - 2020

Of the almost 10 million cancer-related deaths that occurred in the world during 2020,
5.5% were attributable to esophageal cancer. (Cancer Today)


The purpose of this website is to promote awareness of esophageal cancer, summarize its epidemiology (see background and risk and preventive factors) and demonstrate how this information can be used for personalized cancer prevention. See "Learn More" below and menu tab.

New research findings relevant to esophageal cancer causes and prevention will be highlighted from time to time in the blog. If you would like updates delivered to your inbox (1 - 2 per month), sign up for the newsletter.

Most esophageal cancers worldwide are classified as squamous cell carcinomas. In the early 1970s, however, a previously unusual histologic type - adenocarcinoma - began a rapid rise in incidence that continued for over four decades to become the dominant type of esophageal cancer in the West. The BEACON consortium tab summarizes findings from this epidemiologic research consortium which was founded in 2005 to study underlying reasons for the increase and identify potential preventive measures. Additional information resources related to esophageal cancer prevention, treatment and patient support can be found in a menu tab as well.

Learn more

Diagram of esophagus


describes the basic epidemiology of esophageal cancer

Diagram of risk factors and pathways

Risk Factors

summarizes what is known about possible causes of esophageal cancer and opportunities for prevention

Screenshot of risk calculator

What's Your Risk?

introduces the IC-RISC™risk calculator which estimates an individual’s risk of developing esophageal adenenocarcinoma

Fred Hutch Cancer CenterSign up for newsletter

Recent News:

Non-invasive capsule sponge with AI cytology shows promise for screening high-risk areas of China
Results from a study of 1,844 participants from a high-risk area in China indicate that esopphageal cells captured non-invasively via a capsule sponge, when combined with a trained artificial intelligence (AI) system can substantially reduce the need for endoscopy with histopathology, with a sensitivity of 93.7% and positive predictive value of 13.5%.
Evolution of esosphageal adenocarcinoma and implications for screening and surveillance
This nice review updates the molecular/genomic changes leading to esophageal adenocarcinoma and makes the link to more effective screening and treatment approaches. As the authors conclude: "Ultimately, the long evolutionary history and repeated patient surveillance can be used to help improve personalized risk prediction in the management of patients with BE. By understanding the evolutionary dynamics across a BE segment through a global view of the genomic structural instability and the resulting clonal cell populations, we can also begin to improve our understanding of EAC with the aim to detect cancers earlier."
Asbestos exposure and increased risk of ESCC
A meta-analysis of 34 studies of occupational exposure to asbestos reveals a 28% increased risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, which increased to 84% among those most highly exposed. The authors conducted a quite thorough analysis, while lack of available information on the major risk factors (smoking and alcohol) remains a limitation.
Women with BE progress about half as often as men
This meta-analysis reinforces previous observations that women with Barrett's progress to HGD or EAC at about half the rate as men.
This website contains a curated and opinionated look at recent literature regarding the epidemiology and prevention of esophageal cancer, with an emphasis on esophageal adenocarcinoma. It is developed by Thomas L Vaughan MD, MPH ©2021
This website should not be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This site does not constitute the practice of any medical or other professional health care advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information on this website represent the views solely of Dr. Vaughan.
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