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Esophageal Cancer Symptoms & Diagnosis


Symptoms include:

  • Trouble swallowing
  • Painful swallowing
  • Cough
  • Hoarse voice
  • Pain in the throat, back, chest
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Coughing up blood
  • Weight loss

The structure and location of the esophagus makes it easy for cancer to spread very early. This can make a cure more difficult. People who have related conditions, especially reflux, should discuss regular screening tests with their doctor. This may include endoscopy.


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Tests may include:

  • Chest x-ray —an x-ray of the chest area
  • Upper GI series —a series of x-rays of the esophagus and stomach taken after drinking a barium solution (also called barium swallow)
  • Esophagoscopy—examination of the esophagus using a lighted scope
  • Biopsy —removal of a small sample of esophageal tissue to test for cancer cells
  • CT scan—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the body
  • Bone scan —to see if the cancer has spread to the bones

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2020 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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