Oesophageal cancer describes cancer located anywhere in your oesophagus, also known as the gullet or food pipe. Oesophagus connects your mouth to your stomach. Considered the seventh most common cancer, oesophageal cancer’s main symptom is dysphagia.
Due to the location of the cancer, dysphagia, or having problems swallowing, can crop up at the “early stages”.
Hussain Abdeh, Superintendent Pharmacist from Medicine Direct, explained how to spot this sign that occurs when you eat.
He said: “If you find that you choke or start coughing when you eat or drink something, or you bring food back up after trying to swallow, these could be signs of dysphagia.
“Sometimes, the food comes back up through the nose.
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“You may find that you are constantly drooling or feel like there is something stuck in your throat or chest.
“Dysphagia can also make it hard to chew food properly.”
Considered “the most common” symptom of oesophageal cancer, dysphagia can feel like there’s something stuck in your throat or chest.
This consequently affects your ability to eat and swallow food, even causing choking in some cases.
The expert added: “It is most noticeable while eating, as dysphagia can make it harder to chew food.
“Therefore, not only will you find it harder to swallow food, but you are also trying to swallow food that has not been properly chewed, adding to the difficulty.
“Lying down flat can make it easier for the food to travel back up into the oesophagus, which can exacerbate the symptom.”
What’s more, this cancer symptom is considered to be an early warning sign as it appears in “the early stages”.
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However, you might not notice dysphagia straight away as it often starts mildly.
The expert said: “However, as the cancer grows, it will normally get progressively worse.
“As the cancer continues to grow, the opening in the oesophagus will get smaller.”
While dysphagia is an early sign of oesophageal cancer, this isn’t the only symptom linked to the condition. Others can include:
- Acid reflux
- Loss of appetite
- Pain in your chest
- Hoarse voice.
Mr Hussain added: “Many of the symptoms of oesophageal cancer can be deceptive as most of them seem quite mundane, to begin with.
“Initially, they can be dismissed by most sufferers as something that will resolve itself after a day or so.
“If you have been suffering from any of these symptoms for longer than a couple of weeks, you should speak to your doctor.”
Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to cut your risk of this cancer, including avoiding alcohol and tobacco as well as following a healthy diet and lifestyle.