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What’s New The Early Signs of Esophageal Cancer

The Early Signs of Esophageal Cancer

Early signs of esophageal cancer are almost non-existent. Like many other types of cancer, it can sneak up on you and by the time it is diagnosed. In this case, oftentimes there has already been damage and it may have spread. Keenly note the risk factors that make you more susceptible to esophageal cancer, and then watch for any of the symptoms. Early diagnosis equals a more positive prognosis.

An Ignored Organ of the Digestive System

Most people never even think about their esophagus, and they pay no attention to this vitally important organ. This long narrow tube moves our food and liquid from our mouth to the opening of the stomach. No big deal; not much to think about! That perspective would be foolish. Keep reading to learn more.

Man touching his throat.

What Are Initial Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer?

Early signs of esophageal cancer can be subtle, but don’t ignore them. This type of cancer is aggressive and can spread quickly.

Difficulty Swallowing

This is usually the very first sign something is wrong. It is known as dysphagia.

Our esophagus is a muscle that can stretch to accommodate larger pieces of food but it also allows a tumor to grow. However, eventually the tumor and narrowed muscle will begin to interfere with swallowing.  

It may feel like the food is getting caught, and you may try smaller bites. Any issues like this should be discussed with Digestive Health Services as soon as possible. 

Chest Pain

Heartburn or the associated pain of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is another common early symptom.

This chest pain occurs right after swallowing, and the food has come in contact with the tumor.

Losing Weight

This happens without anything proactive on your part. You are probably eating less as a result of the discomfort, plus any type of cancer causes loss of appetite and an increase in metabolism.

Hoarseness and a Chronic Cough

A scratchy voice and a persistent cough can also be a symptom of esophageal cancer.

What Are Risk Factors for Esophageal Cancer?

Know your risk factors and discuss with Digestive Health Services.

Risk factors for esophageal cancer include:

  • GERD and Barrett’s esophagus. Barrett’s esophagus is a precancerous condition due to GERD.
  • Your age. Very few people younger than 55 develop this type of cancer
  • Being a male
  • Regular use of tobacco products
  • Frequent alcohol consumption. The more alcohol you drink the higher the risk
  • Obesity
  • A diet high in processed meat
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • A history of throat, mouth, or lung cancer
  • Achalasia. This is a type of nerve damage which hinders your esophagus from pushing food into your stomach

Note the above risk factors and compare with any early symptoms you may be experiencing.

Contact Digestive Health Services at (630) 434-9312 if you are having any of the early signs of esophageal cancer in Downers Grove.

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Digestive Health Services, SC is a gastroenterology practice with four board certified and highly trained physicians.