Main symptoms of oesophageal cancer
There are many possible symptoms of oesophageal cancer, but they might be hard to spot.
They can affect your digestion, such as:
- having problems swallowing (dysphagia)
- feeling or being sick
- heartburn or acid reflux
- symptoms of indigestion, such as burping a lot
Other symptoms include:
- a cough that is not getting better
- a hoarse voice
- loss of appetite or losing weight without trying to
- feeling tired or having no energy
- pain in your throat or the middle of your chest, especially when swallowing
If you have another condition, such as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, you may get symptoms like these regularly.
You might find you get used to them. But it's important to be checked by a GP if your symptoms change, get worse, or do not feel normal for you.
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if you have:
- problems swallowing
- lost a noticeable amount of weight over the last 6 to 12 months without trying
- other symptoms of oesophageal cancer that get worse or do not get better after 2 weeks
- a condition that causes symptoms with your digestion that are not getting better after 2 weeks of using your usual treatments
These symptoms are very common and can be caused by many different conditions.
Having them does not definitely mean you have oesophageal cancer. But it's important to get them checked by a GP.
This is because if they're caused by cancer, finding it early makes it more treatable.
What happens at the GP appointment
The GP may feel your neck and tummy.
They might arrange for you to have a blood test.
The GP may refer you to see a specialist in hospital for more tests if they think you have a condition that needs to be investigated.
The GP may also refer you straight to hospital for a test to look inside your oesophagus.
This may be an urgent referral, usually within 2 weeks, if you have certain symptoms. This does not definitely mean you have cancer.
Find out more
Page last reviewed: 5 May 2020
Next review due: 5 May 2023