Symptoms of Oesophageal Cancer
The prime symptoms of oesophageal cancer are difficulty swallowing, persistent indigestion or heartburn, loss of appetite and weight loss. You may also feel pain or discomfort in your upper tummy, chest or back and bring up food soon after eating.
Difficulty swallowing, from the cancer narrowing the oesophagus, is the most common of these symptoms. It may feel as though food is getting stuck and swallowing can be uncomfortable or painful.
Diagnosis of Oesophageal Cancer
Diagnosis is best done with an endoscopy, when a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera is passed into your mouth and down towards the stomach so that a doctor can check for cancer.
Small tissue samples – a biopsy – may be removed for testing. If oesophageal cancer is determined, then further tests such as a CT or ultrasound scan can judge how far the cancer has progressed – measured in stages – and the appropriate treatment.
Treatment of Oesophageal Cancer
A multi-disciplinary team will recommend a treatment plan which will feature surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Stage 1-3 is usually treated with surgery but may also require chemotherapy and radiotherapy; Stage 4 is not curable and requires chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other treatments to slow the spread of the cancer.
A surgeon can perform an oesophagectomy to remove a section of the oesophagus and then reconnect the remaining section to your stomach. An Endoscopic Mucosal Resection (EMR) which cuts out the tumour with a loop of wire could be recommended.
Stents can also be used to hold the oesophagus open to ease swallowing difficulties in advanced cases.
To ask a question about Oesophageal Cancer or to book an appointment, contact our specialist team available Monday – Friday 8am – 6pm and on Saturday from 9am – 1pm.
Our gastrointestinal specialists team have a dedicated and caring approach and will seek to find you the earliest appointment possible with the correct specialist for your needs. If you are self-paying you don’t need a referral from your GP. You can simply refer yourself and book an appointment. If you have medical insurance (e.g. Bupa, Axa PPP, Aviva), you will need to contact your insurer for authorisation for any treatment and, in most cases, you will require a referral letter from your GP. If you do not have a GP, then we have an in-house private GP practice that you can use.Alternatively we can suggest the most appropriate course of action for you to take, given your location and individual circumstance.