Esophageal Cancer: Symptoms

What are the symptoms of esophageal cancer?

Esophageal cancer often doesn’t cause symptoms in its early stages, when it's small and hasn't spread. When this cancer does cause symptoms, they’re often like those you might have with other health issues, such as indigestion.

Early symptoms of esophageal cancer include:

  • Trouble swallowing. Swallowing dry solid foods, such as meat, bread, or raw vegetables may be especially hard.

  • Pressure or burning in your chest (behind your breastbone) after swallowing

  • A feeling that food is stuck in your throat

  • Weight loss

  • Heartburn

  • Indigestion

  • Frequent choking

As esophageal cancer gets worse and the tumor grows, symptoms can become more severe. You may have:

  • Trouble swallowing liquids

  • Trouble swallowing saliva

  • Hoarseness

  • Coughing

  • Vomiting

  • Black stool, which is caused by bleeding in the esophagus

When to see your healthcare provider

Many of these symptoms can be caused by other health problems. But it’s important to see your healthcare provider if you have these symptoms. Only a healthcare provider can tell if you have esophageal cancer or some other problem that may need to be treated.

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