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disease characterized by the abnormal growth of cells in the esophagus, the muscular tube connecting the oral cavity with the stomach. Most esophageal cancers develop from epithelial cells lining the esophagus. Approximately half are derived from flat surface cells (squamous cell carcinomas), whereas the others begin in glandular cells (adenocarcinomas). Worldwide, men are more than twice as likely to develop esophageal cancer as women. In the United States, blacks are three times more likely than whites to develop the disease.