What are the symptoms of esophageal cancer?

Early esophageal cancer usually has no symptoms. In later stages, symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Burning, pressure or pain in the chest
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Worsening of heartburn or indigestion
  • Chronic cough, hoarseness and hiccups

How is esophageal cancer diagnosed?

If we think you may have esophageal cancer, you’ll need further testing to make the diagnosis. Testing may include:

  • Imaging - We may look at the tumor with an endoscopic ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT or CAT) scans, or positive emission tomography (PET) scans.
  • Biopsy - The only way to confirm the diagnosis is with a biopsy. A doctor will take a small sample of your tumor, usually during an endoscopy. We’ll give you an anesthetic to help you relax, and then the doctor will put the endoscope (a long flexible tube) through your mouth and into your esophagus to see the tumor and remove a sample. Then a doctor who specializes in esophageal cancer will look at it under a microscope and do other tests to learn more about the tumor.
  • Molecular diagnostics - Our researchers are working to find mutations and markers in tumors that could be used to figure out how aggressive certain cancers are and help decide when chemotherapy is needed.
Patient Support Services

Patient Support Services

Designed for Healing, Wellness and Recovery

Taking care of the whole patient is an important component of providing personalized cancer care. Integrated into the fabric of the Miami Cancer Institute, the Cancer Patient Support Center addresses the psychological, physical, social and spiritual needs of our patients during cancer treatment and beyond.

Have questions? We're here to help.