Knowing the Signs: Esophageal Cancer Symptoms

Esophageal cancer is the cancer of the esophagus or food pipe. Diagnosing esophageal cancer during the early stages of the disease greatly increases the effectiveness of treatment. Unfortunately, in most cases, early-stage esophageal cancer has no symptoms. Some of the most common later-stage symptoms of esophageal cancer include:

  • Indigestion and heartburn
  • Difficult or painful swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Pain, pressure or burning in the throat or chest
  • Weight loss
  • Black tar-like stools
  • Anemia
  • Vomiting blood
  • Hoarseness
  • Persistent hiccups
  • Chronic cough
  • Pneumonia

Many of these symptoms are also associated with other medical conditions, so having any of them does not necessarily mean that you have esophageal cancer.

Esophageal Cancer Risk Factors

With just a minimally invasive procedure, our gastroenterologists can make an accurate diagnosis for high-risk patients earlier on, when treatments are most effective. You may be considered at high risk for esophageal cancer if you:

  • Have GERD or Barrett’s esophagus
  • Are a heavy smoker
  • Are a heavy drinker
  • Are obese
  • Have undergone radiation treatment to the chest or upper abdomen

Reducing the Risk of Developing Esophageal Cancer

You can greatly reduce your risk of esophageal cancer by:

  • Receiving treatment if you have reflux or Barrett’s esophagus
  • Eliminating or limiting your alcohol intake
  • Drinking fewer hot or scalding liquids
  • Maintaining a healthy diet, including adding more fruits and vegetables to your meals
  • Increasing your physical activity
  • Losing weight
  • Stopping the use of tobacco

Make an Appointment With an Esophageal Cancer Specialist 

The team at MD Anderson at Cooper can provide you with comprehensive, personalized care for esophageal cancer.

To learn more about the ways we can help you fight back against esophageal cancer at MD Anderson at Cooper or to schedule an appointment, please call 855.MDA.COOPER (855.632.2667).