We do not know exactly what causes oesophageal cancer. But certain things called risk factors can increase the chance of developing it. Having a risk factor does not mean you will get oesophageal cancer. And if you do not have any risk factors, you may still get oesophageal cancer.
Oesophageal cancer is not infectious and cannot be passed from one person to another.
Drinking a lot of alcohol over a long period of time increases your risk of developing oesophageal cancer. Your risk increases if you drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week. People who drink alcohol and also smoke may have a greater risk.
We have more information about alcohol guidelines.
There are two rare conditions that can increase the risk of oesophageal cancer:
- Achalasia is when the muscle that controls the opening between the oesophagus and the stomach does not relax properly.
- Tylosis is an inherited skin condition.