Esophageal Cancer in Golestan Province, Iran: A Review of Genetic Susceptibility and Environmental Risk Factors

Mahin Gholipour, Farhad Islami, Gholamreza Roshandel, Masoud Khoshnia, Abbas Badakhshan, Abdolvahab Moradi, Reza Malekzadeh


Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is an aggressive tumor that is typically diagnosed only when the tumor has gained remarkable size, extended to peripheral tissues, and led to dysphagia. Five-year survival of advanced cancer is still very poor (19%), even with improved surgical techniques and adjuvant chemoradiation therapy. Therefore, early detection and prevention are the most important strategies to reduce the burden of ESCC. Our review will focus on the studies conducted in Golestan province, an area with a high prevalence of ESCC in northern Iran. We review three aspects of the research literature on ESCC: epidemiological features, environmental factors (including substance abuse, environmental contaminants, dietary factors, and human papilloma virus [HPV]), and molecular factors (including oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, cell cycle regulatory proteins, and other relevant biomarkers). Epidemiological and experimental data suggest that some chemicals and lifestyle factors, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), cigarette smoking, opium use, and hot tea drinking are associated with the development of ESCC in Golestan. HPV infects the esophageal epithelium, but so far, no firm evidence of its involvement in esophageal carcinogenesis has been provided. Some of these factors, notably hot tea drinking, may render the esophageal mucosa more susceptible to injury by other carcinogens. There are few studies at molecular level on ESCC in Golestan. Increasing awareness about the known risk factors of ESCC could potentially reduce the burden of ESCC in the region. Further studies on risk factors, identifying high risk populations, and early detection are needed.


Genetically susceptibility; environmental risk factors; Esophageal cancer; Golestan

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