Esophageal cancer is often detected in later stages, as symptoms often arise too late, once the cancer spreads. There are no standard or routine screenings to detect esophageal cancer in its earliest stages, when the cancer is more treatable. Paired with late onset of symptoms, cancer of the esophagus is highly aggressive and unfortunately, for many, a lethal diagnosis.
Unlike other cancers which can sometimes show early warning signs, esophageal cancer typically does not have any obvious symptoms in the early stages, when the cancer is in the esophagus and has not spread to other organs or lymph nodes.
Symptoms of esophageal cancer include:
Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
Chronic heartburn or indigestion
Frequent choking while eating
Chest pain, pressure or burning
Unexplained weight loss
Cough or hoarseness
Coughing up blood
Family history of esophageal cancer.
The most common of the symptoms listed above is difficulty swallowing. Dysphagia is the medical term for the symptom of difficulty swallowing, “This is usually a progressive problem, which means that it initially begins when large pieces of food are not chewed thoroughly before swallowing, but then the problem can become much worse to the point where liquids can’t be swallowed easily.”
Any of the symptoms listed above should be taken seriously and you should consult with a physician. Symptoms should never be ignored or overlooked. Do not solely rely on information retrieved from the internet or other sources.
Early detection of esophageal cancer saves lives!
There are more treatment options available for early stage diagnoses of esophageal cancer. There is also a better chance of survival and recovery when the cancer is detected in the early stages, as the cancer is still relatively small and is less likely to have metastasized (spread to other organs or areas in the body). Tests are necessary to detect if there is a growth in the esophagus and to see what is causing symptoms. Learn more about how esophageal cancer is diagnosed.
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Sources:Management of Barrett’s oesophagus and intramucosal oesophageal cancer: a review of recent development National Center for Biotechnology Information,S. National Library of Medicine. Bethesda MD, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3437535 Esophageal Cancer Research Funding: “A Snapshot of Esophageal Cancer” http://www.cancer.gov/researchandfunding/snapshots/esophageal
Key Statistics for Esophageal Cancer, The American Cancer Society https://www.cancer.org/cancer/esophagus-cancer/about/key-statistics.htmlDepartment of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,cdc.gov National Cancer Institute, Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program, seer.cancer.gov Esophageal Cancer On The Rise, webmd.com National Cancer Institute: PDQ® Esophageal Cancer Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. cancer.gov Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News, GastroEndoNews.com