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Cancer of The Esophagus

Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer

Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer

Early esophageal cancer may not cause symptoms. As the cancer grows, the list below gives the most common symptoms:

These symptoms may be caused by esophageal cancer or other health problems. If you have any of these symptoms, you should tell your doctor so that problems can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

Diagnosis of Esophageal Cancer

If you have a symptom that suggests esophageal cancer, your doctor must find out whether it's really due to cancer or to some other cause. The doctor gives you a physical exam and asks about your personal and family health history. You may have blood tests. You also may have:

You may want to ask the doctor these questions before having a biopsy:

Staging for Esophageal Cancer

If the biopsy shows that you have cancer, your doctor needs to learn the extent (stage) of the disease to help you choose the best treatment.

Staging is a careful attempt to find out the following:

When esophageal cancer spreads, it's often found in nearby lymph nodes. If cancer has reached these nodes, it may also have spread to other lymph nodes, the bones, or other organs.

Also, esophageal cancer may spread to the liver and lungs.

Your doctor may order one or more of the following staging tests:

Lymph nodes or other tissue samples may be removed to check for cancer cells.

Sometimes staging is not complete until after surgery to remove the cancer and nearby lymph nodes.

When cancer spreads from its original place to another part of the body, the new tumor has the same kind of abnormal cells and the same name as the primary tumor. For example, if esophageal cancer spreads to the liver, the cancer cells in the liver are actually esophageal cancer cells. The disease is metastatic esophageal cancer, not liver cancer. For that reason, it's treated as esophageal cancer, not liver cancer. Doctors call the new tumor "distant" or metastatic disease.

These are the stages of esophageal cancer: