Canadian Cancer Society logo

Esophageal cancer

You are here: 

Symptoms of esophageal cancer

Esophageal cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms in its early stages because of the way it grows. Symptoms often appear once the cancer thickens the wall of the esophagus. Esophageal tumours can also cause symptoms if they grow large enough to block the esophagus or the opening to the stomach, or if they grow into surrounding tissues and organs. Other health conditions can cause the same symptoms as esophageal cancer. See your doctor if you have these symptoms.

The most common symptom of esophageal cancer is difficulty swallowing, or dysphagia. Other symptoms of esophageal cancer include:

  • weight loss
  • painful swallowing (called odynophagia)
  • pain in the throat, chest (behind the breast bone, or sternum) or back
  • heartburn
  • indigestion
  • fatigue
  • malaisemalaiseA general feeling of discomfort or illness.
  • loss of appetite
  • bringing up undigested food (called regurgitation)
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • hoarseness
  • cough
  • hiccups

Stories

Dr Vuk Stambolic Dr Vuk Stambolic and his colleagues explore whether a diabetes drug can fight cancer.

Learn more

Funding lifesaving clinical trials

Illustration of science instruments

The Canadian Cancer Society is funding lifesaving clinical trials that give people with cancer access to the newest types of treatment.

Learn more