Like many types of cancer, esophageal cancer in its early stages may be asymptomatic. Diagnosis in people without symptoms is usually accidental because of tests run for other medical problems. A few signs of cancer may be seen in a few people. These may be as follows:
- Indigestion or heartburn: You may experience indigestion that can lead to heartburn and other symptoms.
- Dysphagia (trouble swallowing): It may the first sign of esophageal cancer. You may experience trouble swallowing because the food gets stuck in the throat or you choke on the food sometimes. Dysphagia generally worsens as cancer progresses into advanced stages. As a result, pain in swallowing increases because your esophagus starts to narrow from growing cancer. If you notice any growing discomfort with swallowing, then immediately consult your physician.
- Chest pain: Chronic chest pain is another warning sign of esophageal cancer. You may experience pain that feels like burning in the affected area, especially after swallowing food or liquid.
- Persistent coughing or hoarseness: If you have persistent cough and hoarse or scratchy voice, then these might indicate esophageal cancer. The tumor may compress the nerve surrounding the vocal cords, leading to hoarseness.
- Unintentional weight loss: Due to dysphagia, eating can be a big-time problem for you. As a result, you may not eat enough to maintain your weight. Cancer might reduce your appetite and increase your metabolism.
- Bleeding into the esophagus: Bloody vomit or blood from the esophagus then passes through the digestive tract, which may turn the stool black. Over time, this blood loss can lead to anemia, which can make a person feel tired.
Having one or more symptoms does not necessarily indicate esophageal cancer. Because some of these symptoms can be attributed to other medical conditions, it is important to discuss any concerning changes with your physician, especially if you are having trouble swallowing.
What are the symptoms of advanced stages of esophageal cancer?
Because cancer invades the nearby tissues and organs, new symptoms may occur or there can be worsening of old symptoms.
- Compression of the surrounding nerves can lead to:
Moreover, cancer spreading to different areas may cause various additional symptoms, which include
- Lungs symptoms include
- Liver symptoms include
- Bone symptoms include
- Bone pain
- Brain symptoms may include
- Intestinal symptoms include
Cancer spreading to the kidney often does not cause any symptoms.
In extremely late stages, esophageal cancer may completely constrict the esophagus attributing to total dysphagia. It gives rise to the buildup of secretion in the mouth, causing distress in you.
How can you prevent the risk of esophageal cancer?
Some of the preventive measures to avoid getting esophageal cancer include
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