Heartburn could be an early sign of oesophageal cancer – expert

Cancer symptoms: Top 14 early signs to look out for

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Oesophageal cancer is found anywhere in the oesophagus, sometimes called the gullet or food pipe. Based on the location of the tumour, you can also expect the tell-tale signs to strike down in this area. One key sensation that could point to the condition is heartburn.

Heartburn, also known as acid reflux, describes a burning feeling inside of your chest. 

This memorable sensation is usually triggered by stomach acid travelling up your throat.

Anna Mapson, registered nutritionist at Goodness Me Nutrition, said: “Reflux can be a temporary symptom of diet and lifestyle and can simply be treated with over-the-counter medication and changes to the way you eat. 

“Reflux may be caused by a variety of factors including eating large meals, oily foods, spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine, citrus fruits, peppermint.”

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Although your diet could be the very trigger for heartburn, it could also be a sign of oesophageal cancer.

Mapson continued: “Some of these foods cause us to have more acid in the stomach, and some can loosen the sphincter at the top of the stomach, allowing the contents of the stomach to open and enter the oesophagus.

“When acid from our stomach repeatedly enters the oesophagus, it can damage the cells which may over time lead to cancerous changes.”

Fortunately, Paula Oliveira, doctor at Loxa Beauty, shared that this sign is often linked with stage one of oesophageal cancer, making it an early symptom.

When it comes to spotting this cancerous heartburn, the doctor shared you’re looking for a persistent sensation.

Furthermore, certain activities can make this warning sign more obvious.

She added: “Indigestion or heartburn can pop up anytime but worsen after a meal or when lying down. 

“Activities like running, cycling, sprinting, and weight lifting can also trigger the symptom.”

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As heartburn doesn’t necessarily guarantee you have oesophageal cancer, it’s important to contact your doctor.

Oliveira said: “The best way to spot worsening heartburn as a symptom of oesophageal cancer is by checking with your healthcare provider.

“Your doctor or physician will help you establish whether or not something is seriously wrong.”

Another indication of whether your heartburn is pointing to the deadly condition is the symptoms accompanying it.

From trouble swallowing to feeling nauseous, there are various signs but they may be hard to spot, according to the NHS.

Mapson said: “Symptoms of oesophageal cancer include acid reflux, a cough that won’t go away, dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), feeling nauseous and unintentional weight loss.”

While you might find you get used to them, the health service shares it’s still important to contact your GP.

Fortunately, there are various treatment options available, ranging from surgery to chemotherapy.

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