© 2005-2012 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). All rights reserved worldwide.
People with esophageal cancer may experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes, people with esophageal cancer do not show any of these symptoms. Or, these symptoms may be caused by a medical condition that is not cancer. If you are concerned about a symptom or sign on this list, please talk with your doctor.
- Difficulty and pain with swallowing, particularly when eating meat, bread, or raw vegetables. As the tumor grows, it can block the pathway to the stomach. Even liquid may be painful to swallow.
- Pressure or burning in the chest
- Indigestion or heartburn
- Frequent choking on food
- Unexplained weight loss
- Coughing or hoarseness
- Pain behind the breastbone or in the throat
Your doctor will ask you questions about the symptoms you are experiencing to help find out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis. This may include how long you’ve been experiencing the symptom(s) and how often.
If cancer is diagnosed, relieving symptoms and side effects remains an important part of cancer care and treatment. This may also be called symptom management, palliative care, or supportive care. Be sure to talk with your health care team about symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.