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How does esophageal cancer affect the body?

Dr. Jill K. Onesti, MD
Surgical Oncologist

Esophageal cancer mainly affects the body by causing blockage of your esophagus so that you are no longer able to eat enough calories. This can make you feel very tired and lose weight. If this progresses without treatment, the blockage may become complete. At this point it can be difficult to even swallow your own saliva. If the cancer has spread, you may develop symptoms related to the specific areas where the tumor has gone. For example, if the tumor has spread to your spine (or backbone) you may develop pain in your back.

The effects of esophageal cancer on the body become more apparent as the disease progresses. The esophageal tumor may grow large enough to partly block the esophagus, causing difficulty during swallowing. The tumor might also grow through the esophagus and into the windpipe, which is in close proximity. Esophageal cancer may also affect the nerves in the area, causing pain, or the blood vessels in the area, causing bleeding.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.