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Is esophageal cancer the only cause of difficulty swallowing?

The process of swallowing requires the "cooperation" of many muscles, nerves, and structures. A problem in any of these things can cause difficulty swallowing, not just esophageal cancer. Muscular problems that might cause difficulty swallowing can involve the muscles that run down the side of the esophagus that push food into the stomach, or the O-shaped muscles (called sphincters) that determine when particles will pass from the esophagus into the stomach. Problems with either of these muscular structures can cause difficulty swallowing. Problems with the nerves that control swallowing can be caused by strokes, polio, Parkinson's disease, and trauma. These problems can also result in difficulty swallowing. Finally, structural problems with the esophagus itself can cause difficulty swallowing. These problems might include food caught in the esophagus, an abnormal ring around the esophagus called a stricture, or the growth of an abnormal esophageal pocket near the mouth that prevents smooth passage of food to the stomach.

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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.