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Fighting Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer starts in the tube connecting your mouth and stomach. It accounts for about one percent of all cancers in the U.S. The disease can develop in the lining of the esophagus or in the gland cells that make mucus and other fluids. 

If you have symptoms such as pain or difficulty when swallowing, come to Dignity Health for a diagnosis. Our doctors offer personalized care for all stages of esophageal cancer in the Bay Area. Use our online search tool to Find a Doctor.

Esophageal Cancer Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of esophageal cancer are typically mild in the early stages and get worse as the disease progresses. They can include:

  • Painful or difficult swallowing
  • Feeling of food getting stuck or choking with swallowing
  • Difficulty swallowing even very soft foods
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Chronic cough or hoarseness
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Pain or pressure in your chest or behind your breastbone
  • Vomiting or hiccups

These symptoms are often seen in other noncancerous health conditions, so talk with your doctor for the right diagnosis. If you have severe heartburn or chest pain and suspect a heart attack, call 9-1-1 for immediate medical attention.

Esophageal Cancer Causes

Researchers don’t know the specific causes of esophageal cancer, but certain risk factors are associated with its development. 

The main risk factors for esophageal cancer are: 

  • Age 55 or older
  • Male gender
  • Tobacco and alcohol use
  • Obesity
  • Poor nutrition
  • Achalasia, a condition in which the lower esophageal sphincter doesn’t relax properly
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Barrett's esophagus, a condition caused by chronic acid reflux 

If you or a loved one would like to meet with a doctor to discuss lowering your risk factors, visit one of these hospitals in the Bay Area:

Together with your doctor, you can create a prevention plan that meets your needs.

Esophageal Cancer Treatment at Dignity Health

Treatment for esophageal cancer depends on the stage of your disease. Dignity Health doctors use a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. You can take an active role in preventing esophageal cancer by not smoking, decreasing or stopping alcohol use, getting treatment for GERD and Barrett’s esophagus, and maintaining a healthy weight. Let the experts at Dignity Health know how we can help — your well-being is our priority.

Receive quality care for esophageal cancer in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City, CA at Dignity Health hospitals in the Bay Area.