Esophageal cancer can sneak up on you if heartburn and indigestion is a chronic issue for you. Don’t be fooled by short-term relief from over-the-counter antacids. Learn about 6 esophageal cancer symptoms to look for.
The Overlooked Part of the Digestive System
In order for food to be digested, it must pass from your mouth, down your esophagus, to your stomach to begin the digestive process. We hear a lot about colon cancer, stomach cancer and the like, but we never seem to focus on the esophagus.
The esophagus is a hollow tube, and esophageal cancer begins in cells that line the inside of the esophagus. A person who lives with frequent indigestion and heartburn may not realize what they might be doing to their esophagus. They don’t think these symptoms are serious enough to visit their doctor, and many times this can continue for years.
In addition, early signs of esophageal cancer may not be present, so it becomes hard to decipher if things have worsened or changed. Once you recognize some new or worsening symptoms, at that point, the cancer may be at an advanced stage.
How does esophageal cancer usually start?
Esophageal cancer happens when the DNA of the cells in the esophagus changes and causes them to multiply too fast. These cells do not die when they should and build up to form a mass in the esophagus. This mass can grow bigger and spread to nearby tissues and organs.
The first sign of esophageal cancer may be difficulty swallowing (dysphagia). This happens because the tumor grows and narrows the opening of the esophagus. You may feel like food gets stuck in your throat or chest, or you may choke on your foo
What are the red flags for esophageal cancer?
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD, is common among today’s fast-paced society. We eat fast and move on to the next task. If the sphincter at the end of the esophagus leading to the stomach does not work properly, food and bile can flow back up through the esophagus causing slow damage to your esophagus.
Losing weight for no reason and without trying should be a red flag for everyone. Most of us are on a constant diet, so this appears to be a happy change. It’s not.
Difficulty swallowing is not normal. Someone having trouble getting their food down their throat is an indication there may be a blockage. This may cause vomiting.
Coughing and frequently having a hoarse voice can indicate an inflamed or narrowed esophagus.
Burning chest pains that are getting worse is a symptom of esophageal cancer.
Noticeably worsening indigestion problems and heartburn should be checked by a gastroenterologist.
Of course, some of these signs can indicate other types of medical conditions. Don’t guess!