Noncancerous (benign) tumors of the esophagus Throat and Esophagus The throat (pharynx) lies behind and below the mouth. When food and fluids leave the mouth, they pass through the throat. Swallowing of food and fluids begins voluntarily and continues automatically... read more (the tube that connects the throat to the stomach) are rare. Some tumors can cause problems with swallowing and, rarely, ulcers, bleeding, or both. They are usually more bothersome than harmful.
The most common type of noncancerous tumor is a leiomyoma, a tumor of the smooth muscle. It occurs most frequently in people between the ages of 30 and 60.
Other types of noncancerous tumors, including those consisting of connective tissue (fibrovascular polyps) and tissues related to nerves (schwannomas), are rare.
Diagnosis of Noncancerous Esophageal Tumors
Upper endoscopy or a barium swallow
To diagnose these tumors, doctors do an upper endoscopy or a barium swallow and may also do endoscopic ultrasonography.
In an upper endoscopy Endoscopy Endoscopy is an examination of internal structures using a flexible viewing tube (endoscope). In addition to examinations, doctors can use endoscopy to do biopsies and give treatment. Endoscopes... read more , doctors look in the esophagus with a flexible tube. In a barium swallow Barium X-Ray Studies of the Digestive Tract X-rays often are used to evaluate digestive problems. Standard x-rays ( plain x-rays) can show some blockages or paralysis of the digestive tract, or abnormal air patterns in the abdominal cavity... read more , doctors usually take x-rays while the person swallows barium liquid (which shows up on x-rays).
Once the tumors are seen, doctors take tissue samples by doing an upper endoscopy.
Doctors may do a computed tomography (CT) scan in some people.
Treatment of Noncancerous Esophageal Tumors
Typically, treatment is not recommended until a person develops symptoms or tumors start to grow larger.
Most leiomyomas are small and do not require treatment. However, a small number of leiomyomas grow large enough to cause partial obstruction of the esophagus, which may lead to difficulty swallowing Difficulty Swallowing Some people have difficulty swallowing (dysphagia). In dysphagia, foods and/or liquids do not move normally from the throat (pharynx) to the stomach. People feel as though food or liquids become... read more (dysphagia) and pain or discomfort. Analgesics (pain relievers) may provide temporary relief, but surgical removal is needed for permanent relief.
Because other rare noncancerous tumors can become cancerous (malignant), doctors typically remove them.