Oesophageal cancer (also called cancer of the oesophagus) is a malignant tumour that grows in the lining of the oesophagus. The oesophagus (the gullet) is the tube that carries food from the mouth down into the stomach using a series of muscular movements.
Two types of cancer, squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma, make up 90% of all oesophageal cancers. Oesophageal cancer can occur in any section of the oesophagus. Most cancers in the top part of the oesophagus are squamous cell cancers. They are called this because the cells lining the top part of the oesophagus are squamous cells. Squamous means scaly.
Most cancers at the end of the oesophagus that join the stomach are adenocarcinomas. Adenocarcinomas are often found in people who have a condition called Barrett's oesophagus.