The esophagus is a muscular tube between the mouth and stomach. It's about 25 cm to 35 cm (10 to 14 inches) long in an average adult and about 2 cm (¾ inch) wide. The esophagus is made up of several layers. The cancer usually begins in the innermost layer and works its way outwards. Cancer can occur anywhere along the length of the esophagus. However, most esophageal cancers occur in the lower-third region of the esophagus.
Esophageal cancer is three times more common among men than women and is found more often in people of African descent than in Caucasians. Although it accounts for approximately 1% of all cancers in the North American population, esophageal cancer is the second most common cancer in parts of Asia.