Overview of Risk Factors for Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma in China

Cancers (Basel). 2023 Nov 27;15(23):5604. doi: 10.3390/cancers15235604.


(1) Background: China has the highest esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) incidence areas in the world, with some areas of incidence over 100 per 100,000. Despite extensive public health efforts, its etiology is still poorly understood. This study aims to review and summarize past research into potential etiologic factors for ESCC in China. (2) Methods: Relevant observational and intervention studies were systematically extracted from four databases using key terms, reviewed using Rayyan software, and summarized into Excel tables. (3) Results: Among the 207 studies included in this review, 129 studies were focused on genetic etiologic factors, followed by 22 studies focused on dietary-related factors, 19 studies focused on HPV-related factors, and 37 studies focused on other factors. (4) Conclusions: ESCC in China involves a variety of factors including genetic variations, gene-environment interactions, dietary factors like alcohol, tobacco use, pickled vegetables, and salted meat, dietary behavior such as hot food/drink consumption, infections like HPV, poor oral health, gastric atrophy, and socioeconomic factors. Public health measures should prioritize genetic screening for relevant polymorphisms, conduct comprehensive investigations into environmental, dietary, and HPV influences, enhance oral health education, and consider socioeconomic factors overall as integral strategies to reduce ESCC in high-risk areas of China.

Keywords: cancer etiology; esophageal cancer; esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Review