Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer is cancer that occurs in the esophagus – a long, hollow tube that runs
from your throat to your stomach. Your esophagus carries food you swallow to your stomach to
be digested.

It usually begins in the cells that line the inside of the esophagus. Esophageal cancer can
occur anywhere along the esophagus. More men than women get esophageal cancer.

Signs and symptoms

  • Difficulty in swallowing.
  • Weight loss without trying.
  • Chest pain, pressure or burning.
  • Worsening indigestion or heartburn.
  • Coughing or hoarseness.

When to see your doctor?

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any persistent signs or symptoms that
worry you.

Screening for esophageal cancer isn’t done routinely because of a lack of an easily
identifiable high-risk group and the possible risks associated with the endoscopy.


  • It’s not clear what causes esophageal cancer.
  • Esophageal cancer occurs when cells in your esophagus develop errors (mutations) in
    their DNA.
  • The errors make cells grow and divide out of control.
  • The accumulating abnormal cells form a tumor in the esophagus that can grow to invade
    nearby structures and spread to other parts of the body.

Risk factors include:

  • Having bile reflux.
  • Having difficulty swallowing.
  • Drinking very hot liquids.
  • Eating few fruits and vegetables.
  • Being obese.

Links to Esophageal Cancer Studies