Symptoms of cancer of the esophagus, or an esophagus tumor, vary according to the stages of the illness. The most common symptoms are difficulty in swallowing and throat pain. As the disease progresses, the symptoms generally worsen. Coughing, a raspy voice, and weight loss may be other common symptoms.
An esophagus tumor is often caused by cigarette smoking, although many other factors may contribute to this type of cancer. In the earliest stages, the patient may not notice any changes or abnormalities. After a short period of time, tenderness in the neck and throat may soon develop. The patient may then notice difficulty in swallowing, especially hard, crunchy, or textured foods. There may be a feeling of fullness or tightness in the throat.
In some cases of esophageal cancer or an esophagus tumor, the throat pain may radiate to other areas, such as the upper chest region. Swollen glands may be present as well. As the disease progresses, coughing is generally present as well. The cough may start out as a dry hacking cough, and sometimes excess phlegm or mucus may also be present.
Another common symptom of an esophagus tumor is hoarseness. The patient may notice a change in the way his voice sounds. Often the voice may take on a lower, raspy edge. In advanced stages, the vocal cords may become completely damaged by the presence of the tumor, which can make speaking painful, difficult, or even impossible.
The patient with an esophagus tumor may suffer from organ damage as the cancer metastasizes to other areas of the body. He may notice the throat pain has spread to a wide area of the back. This could indicate renal failure or complications. In some cases, the spinal cord may also be affected.
If cancer of the esophagus spreads to the lungs, the patient will experience another set of symptoms. In advanced stages of an esophagus tumor that has affected the lungs, the patient's coughing may become progressively worse. He may begin to cough up blood, or find drops of blood on his pillow. Chest pain and pressure is common in such a case.
When the esophagus tumor has affected one or both lungs, the patient is also at risk for developing pneumonia. Symptoms of pneumonia are fever, chills, deep cough, and chest pain. Difficulty in breathing is another common symptom.
A patient with esophageal cancer may be treated with a combination of therapies. These may include radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. Patients with an esophagus tumor may be treated successfully and possibly cured if the illness is caught in the very early stages, before the cancer has spread to other regions of the body. Once the cancer has metastasized, the mortality rate is significantly higher.