Oesophageal cancer usually presents in patients above 60 years of age. It is more common in men and smoking is known to be a major risk factor. Alcohol intake and food preservatives are also believed to convey a higher risk of cancer. Chronic heartburn and reflux disease are associated with Barrett’s oesophagus, a pre-cancerous condition which is a major risk factor for oesophageal adenocarcinoma.
An uncommon but important risk factor is previous injury to the oesophagus with chemicals found in household cleaning agents or pesticides. Other rare conditions that lead to oesophageal cancer include swallowing disorders such as achalasia and Plummer-Vinson syndrome and hereditary tylosis.