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Oesophageal Cancer

  • Overview

  • Symptoms

  • Diagnosis

  • Treatment


Cancer develops in the food pipe when the cells lining the tube begin to grow and divide and form a tumour. They typically start in the innermost layer but can spread to the lymph nodes and neighbouring parts of the body. Oesophageal cancer can progress from 0-4 stages.

Early Symptoms

  • Difficulty in swallowing (the oesophagus narrows as the tumour grows)
  • Difficulty in swallowing can also cause lack of appetite and weight loss
  • Bloated stomach after food intake
  • Bone pain, chest pain or burning sensation in the chest
  • Hoarseness, hiccups or persistent cough
  • Pneumonia
  • Bleeding in the food pipe or in vomit


  • Biopsy
  • Endoscopy
  • Imaging techniques to determine the stage of cancer
  • Barium swallow



Surgery: An oesophagectomy removes the tumour, part of the food pipe and the lymph nodes where the cancer could have spread.

Chemotherapy: Oesophageal is not usually diagnosed until it is sufficiently advanced to perform surgery. Hence treatment may start upon a suspicion with chemotherapy and continue if the cancer spreads.

Radiation Therapy: Radiation can be used along with chemotherapy before surgery to shrink it and make it easier to extract.