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Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer

illustration showing esophageal cancer | Gi North Detecting esophageal cancer in its early stages can be very difficult. Generally the initial signs seem like ordinary digestive problems. And unfortunately, it oftentimes goes undetected until the disease has advanced. Moreover, when esophageal cancer is at advanced stages it limits treatment options.

However, there are several signs and symptoms of esophageal cancer. It is advised that you consult a doctor if you experience any symptoms, especially if they persist for several weeks.

When to see Your Doctor or a Specialist

According to the Mayo Clinic, you should schedule an appointment with a specialist if you have any continual signs and symptoms that are troubling you. As well, your risk of esophageal cancer is increased if you have been diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus. Ask your physician what signs and symptoms to watch for.

Difficulty Swallowing

One of the most common symptoms of esophageal cancer is pain or difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia). Most often the throat feels irritated or there is pressure. Pain can sometimes be felt right after swallowing, when liquid or food reaches a tumor and cannot pass. There may also be pain if the cancer has caused a lesion in the lining of the esophagus or surrounding tissues. Generally this type of pain is felt in the back between the shoulder blades or in the chest.


It is best to see your doctor if you are hoarse and feel the need to clear your throat often, especially if the irritation cannot be explained by any other illness or condition.

Unexplained Weight Loss

You should consult a physician if you are unintentionally losing weight. Although unexplained weight loss can mean many things, it is best to make an appointment with a doctor.


Constant heartburn is also a symptom of esophageal cancer. The heartburn is painful and can be accompanied with a burning sensation behind the breast bone or in the throat.

Persistent Cough

A persistent cough that does not go away is a symptom of esophageal cancer. To be on the safe side, schedule an appointment with a specialist.

Hiccups with Difficulty Swallowing or Pain

It is advisable to contact a specialist if you get the hiccups often and also have difficulty swallowing or pain. If you often have the hiccups and also have pain or difficulty swallowing, you need to see a doctor. The two conditions combined together are common in esophageal cancer.


If at any time you suspect that you may have esophageal cancer, it is best to schedule an appointment with a qualified physician. At GI North, their professional practice offers advanced experience and attentive care in gastroenterology and treating diseases of the digestive system. Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano at GI North service many metro Atlanta communities such as Alpharetta, Dahlonega, Dawsonville, Duluth, John’s Creek, Milton, Suwanee and beyond. And if you prefer a Spanish speaking physician, you can request your appointment to be with Dr. Quijano.

© 2016 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

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