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


Dr Xiaoyan Jiang Dr Xiaoyan Jiang found a way to predict how a type of leukemia will respond to treatment.

Learn more

Advocating for cancer patients

Illustration of a bullhorn

Our staff and volunteers meet with elected officials from local, provincial and national governments to persuade them to make the fight against cancer one of their top priorities.

Learn more