The symptoms of esophageal cancer related to GERD are difficulty swallowing, weight loss, chest pain, coughing and hoarse throat. Indigestion and heartburn may also be experienced, notes WebMD.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, in which contents and acid from the stomach leak into the esophagus, increases the risk of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, according to WebMD. About 30 percent of esophageal cancers are related to GERD. Other risk factors for esophageal cancers are smoking or chewing tobacco and heavy alcohol consumption.
Barrett's esophagus, a condition that affects the lower part of the esophagus can also lead to esophageal cancer, notes WebMD. Barrett's esophagus may be caused by GERD as the stomach acid in the esophagus can cause changes to the cells and increase the risk for adenocarcinoma. African Americans, men and the elderly are at the highest risk for esophageal cancer.
Doctors diagnose esophageal cancer by reviewing symptoms, medical history, performing an examination and ordering blood tests and X-rays, states WebMD. Tests may include a barium swallow X-ray, in which a patient drinks a liquid that coats the esophagus to make it more visible on the X-ray. An endoscopy and a biopsy may also be performed. Doctors examine the tissue from the biopsy under a microscope to detect cancerous cells.