What Is Esophageal Cancer?

Your esophagus is the muscular tube that goes from your neck to your abdomen, connecting your mouth to your stomach. Esophageal cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells in the esophagus. The lining of the esophagus is the most common region for cancers of the esophagus to start to grow.

  • Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of esophageal cancer in the world. It can form anywhere in the esophagus, but most frequently in the upper two thirds of the esophagus.
  • The most common type of esophageal cancer in the U.S. is adenocarcinoma.

Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer

Symptoms of esophageal cancer usually do not appear until the disease is in advanced stages. Having a hard time swallowing, or the sensation of food being stuck in the throat before reaching the stomach, is the most common symptom of esophageal cancer. In more advanced stages of esophageal cancer, liquids may also become hard to swallow. Other symptoms may include:

  • Weight loss, often from not getting enough food
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Regurgitation of undigested food
  • Vomiting blood
  • Black or tarry stool
  • Hoarseness or a long-term cough that does not go away within two weeks
  • Heartburn