The initial stage of esophageal cancer may not show any signs, but at a later stage different symptoms may appear, including difficulty swallowing, unexplained weight loss, hoarseness, chest pain and heart burn, states WebMD. People with risk factors of esophageal cancer may notice new symptoms, which may need a medical diagnosis.
Other symptoms may include hiccups, bone pain, chronic cough, pneumonia and bleeding in the esophagus, notes the American Cancer Society. Experiencing one or more of these symptoms does not indicate the presence of esophageal cancer. Some symptoms may be caused by other health conditions; therefore, visiting a doctor for a diagnosis can help in eliminating any doubts.
Several risk factors may elevate the chances of getting esophageal cancer, according to WebMD. These include heavy consumption of alcohol, smoking, gastroesophageal reflux disease and Barret's esophagus. It is believed that 30 percent of esophagus cancer cases are connected to gastroesophageal reflux disease.
There are two types of esophageal cancer, namely squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. These types are named depending on where they start in the body. During a diagnosis, the doctor will conduct a physical examination and review the medical history of a patient. Other tests that may be conducted include an x-ray and blood tests.