Q. Are difficulty in swallowing, coughing, and chest burn symptoms of esophageal cancer?

Answered by
Dr. Noushin Payravi
and medically reviewed by Dr. Vinodhini. J
This is a premium question & answer published on Feb 11, 2020 and last reviewed on: Feb 15, 2020

Hello doctor,

A few months before, I felt burn and pain in the chest area when I swallow anything like my own saliva. It lasted more than a week and again I felt normal. Again yesterday, I started to feel this pain and I started to think about that and felt stress. Tonight, when I swallow anything I feel this chest pain and burn. And when I do not swallow also I feel pain in the chest area. Is it serious and should I worry about that? When I searched on the internet it says big diseases like esophageal cancer. The symptoms say difficulty in swallowing, coughing and things and now I feel like I am feeling all those symptoms. Please help.

Dr. Noushin Payravi

Family Physician General Practitioner


Welcome to icliniq.com.

The symptoms you have been experiencing such as difficulty in swallowing and burning pain warrant a more extensive study with barium studies (in which you swallow a material composed of barium and then you will be radiographed, the esophageal structural pathologies are going to be demonstrated by this way, such as strictures), and endoscopy (to have a more clear view of esophagus and stomach).

Gastroesophageal reflux which is the backflow of acid into the esophagus is the most common reason and it can be treated easily with medications. Gastritis or H. Pylori infection needs to be treated with specific medications (UBT- urea breath test, is required to rule out H. Pylori infection). The results of the aforementioned test are required to make a definite diagnosis, however, esophageal cancers are extremely unlikely given the duration of your symptoms and your age.

I can assure you in your age most common etiologies are esophageal spasm and strictures. Former can be treated with calcium channel blockers and antidepressants, and in case of strictures, endoscopic dilation can be done to relieve the pressure.

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