Esophageal cancer is cancer that develops in the esophagus, the muscular 10- to 13-inch tube that connects the throat to the stomach.
The esophagus is located just behind the trachea and allows food to enter the stomach for digestion. The wall of the esophagus is made up of several layers and cancers generally start from the inner layer and grow out.
Often there are no symptoms in the early stages of esophageal cancer. Symptoms do not appear until the disease is more advanced. The following are the most common symptoms of esophageal cancer. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- Difficult or painful swallowing, known as dysphagia, is the most common symptom of esophageal cancer. Dysphagia gives a sensation of having food lodged in the chest.
- Pain in the throat or back, behind the breastbone or between the shoulder blades
- Severe weight loss due to the unintentional lack of not getting enough food
- Hoarseness or chronic cough that does not go away within two weeks
- Blood in stool or black-looking stools