What are the warning signs or symptoms of esophageal cancer?

Dr. Jill K. Onesti, MD
Surgical Oncologist

Esophageal cancer may cause symptoms related to swallowing liquids and foods. When it is difficult to swallow food, many people naturally change their diet to softer foods (mashed potatoes and pasta, for example), and eventually lose weight. The tumor may grow large enough to completely block the esophagus, making it difficult to swallow even liquids. Some people may experience acid reflux—their doctors will notice a change in the cells lining the esophagus when performing an If you develop new-onset acid reflux or have trouble swallowing, discuss these symptoms with your doctor.

Early esophageal cancers often do not have any warning signs or symptoms. If people experience any of the following symptoms they should talk to a doctor:

  • trouble swallowing
  • chest pain
  • worsening heartburn
  • a cough lasting for more than a month
  • weight loss without trying

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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.