Esophageal cancer is best treated when the cancer is in its earliest stage, but oftentimes patients aren’t aware they are dealing with the condition until it has progressed. Symptoms are always easy to spot until the cancer becomes more serious and the symptoms become more evident, but the warning signs are usually there if you know where to look. Today, we share five early and oft-overlooked signs of esophageal cancer.
Mild Difficulty Swallowing
Swallowing can become downright difficult if esophageal cancer has progressed to a later stage, but at the outset it may create some minor discomfort or difficulty swallowing. If you’re having some discomfort while swallowing, something just doesn’t feel right when eating or if food seems to get stuck in your throat, consult with a doctor.
Heartburn is not all that uncommon, but that doesn’t mean that symptoms should be ignored. If you notice some heartburn after a big meal, it may not be a huge issue, but if you find that you’re dealing with acid reflux on a more regular basis or after every meal, it’s a sign that something is going on with your esophagus. It doesn’t mean that you’re dealing with cancer, but you’ll want to get to the bottom of it nonetheless.
Dull or Acute Chest Pain
A number of patients who are eventually diagnosed with esophageal cancer say that they suspected there was an issue when they began experiencing a chronic but dull feeling of chest pain. For others, pain is more acute. If you’re dealing with pain in your chest and you can’t pinpoint a reason for the discomfort, it could be because of an issue with your esophagus.
You might think that a chronic cough is just a cold that won’t go away, but it’s also an early warning sign of esophageal cancer. The reason you are coughing more may be because acid reflux is making it’s way into your esophageal canal, and this acid can wear down the protective lining and lead to cancer. Again, it might just be the result of a common cold, but if it lingers, consider visiting a throat specialist.
Changes in Voice
Another early warning sign of esophageal cancer is changes in your voice. The most common change in voice comes in the form of hoarseness. Hoarseness usually doesn’t set in until the cancer has advanced, but if your throat feels scratchy or you’re clearing your throat more often because your voice just doesn’t sound the same, you’ll want to head into the doctor’s office.
If you’re dealing with one or more of these symptoms, reach out to Dr. Koeplin today.