Oesophageal cancer symptoms: Prolonged indigestion could be a sign of the deadly disease

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Part of the digestive system, oesophageal cancer can begin in two main types of cells – the squamous or glandular cells. Recurrent indigestion may be a symptom of the condition.

Cancer Research UK listed “indigestion that doesn’t go away” as one of the most common signs of oesophageal cancer.

Typically, the valve (cardiac sphincter) between the stomach and oesophagus prevents stomach acid from entering the wind pipe.

However, a tumour near the site can prevent the cardiac sphincter from working.

This can lead to indigestion, which can be painful; medical attention is required if this condition has lingered for three weeks or more.

What’s indigestion?

Medically known as dyspepsia, the NHS list five symptoms of the condition. These are:

  • Heartburn
  • Feeling full and bloated
  • Feeling sick
  • Belching and farting
  • Bringing up food or bitter-tasting fluids into your mouth

For clarification, heartburn is a “painful burning feeling in the chest, often are eating”.

This is caused from stomach acid coming up to the throat, which doesn’t usually require medical assistance.

Occasional indigestion isn’t considered “a sign of anything serious”, and it can be treated at home.

Tips include cutting down on caffeinated beverages and alcohol, and to lose weight if needs be.

Another recommendation by the NHS is to prop your head and shoulders up in bed to stop stomach acid from coming up while you sleep.

It’s also advised not to eat up to four hours before bedtime, or to indulge in rich, spicy or fatty foods.

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Oesophageal cancer

Cancer Research UK lists three other common signs of oesophageal cancer to be aware of.

These include: difficulty swallowing; unexplained weight loss pain; pain in your throat or behind your breastbone.

Difficulty swallowing

Known as dysphagia, it’s describes as a “burning sensation” when you swallow.

The painful symptom may also result in food sticking in your throat or chest.

Unexplained weight loss

If you’ve been dropping the pounds without even trying, it’s alerting you to the very real possibility that something could be wrong.

In this scenario, oesophageal cancer could make it difficult to swallow food, thus you don’t eat as much as you lose weight.


The charity explained pain may be felt in the “centre of your chest”, in your back or “between your shoulder blades”.

This pain – no matter where it’s positioned – can worsen when you swallow or when you have indigestion.

Other signs of the deadly disease include coughing up blood, a hoarse voice or dark poo.

To go into detail, coughing up blood (or having blood in your vomit) can occur when the food pipe is bleeding.

A hoarse voice may sound “raspy or croaky”, and “dark poo” references “almost black” faeces.

If any of these signs are troubling you, do make an appointment with your GP.

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