Esophageal cancer is relatively rare in the U.S., but the risk goes up as we age, and cancers of the esophagus are four times more common in men than women. The esophagus connects the throat to the stomach. The upper part has a ring of muscle that opens the esophagus when we consume food or drink. The lower part, the gastroesophageal junction (GEJ), contains another ring that opens to allow food to pass to the stomach. Cancer of the esophagus grows in the inner layer and expands outward.