Patient Comments: Esophageal Cancer - Symptoms and Signs

What were the symptoms and signs you experienced with esophageal cancer?

Comment from: Joy, 0-2 Male (Caregiver) Published: July 27

My husband had lost some weight last fall (2016) but he had wanted to lose about 10 pounds. He was healthy otherwise and exercised and ate a healthy diet. No smoking, no excessive alcohol (wine with dinner or social occasions), not obese, no acid reflux. Thanksgiving and Christmas he ate normally but after Christmas he had lost some more weight. Sunday during President's Day weekend (February) 2017 we were having brunch and he had trouble swallowing. He went to the emergency room at the local hospital and they sent him by ambulance to the regional hospital. Diagnosis was Barrett's esophagus and esophageal cancer. We went to a cancer center hospital for a CT and PET scan. It was stage 4 and lymph nodes were affected. He had surgery to insert a J-tube for feeding. He started chemotherapy at the beginning of April. After the first treatment swallowing was better. Second treatment two weeks later, he could drink normally and not sip it. After the 3rd treatment white blood cell count was low and he had two injections. Two days later he was faint and could not walk very far when we went for our usual walk. The next week May 11 he had chemotherapy again but had to have a blood transfusion of platelets. He did not recover from the fatigue of the chemotherapy. May 17 during the night, bleeding occurred in the esophagus and blood was being digested and passed into the feces. He was sent to the regional hospital and given radiation treatments. May 24 the bleeding started again and an endoscopy was done to tie off the bleeding vein. May 27 he left ICU, bleeding stopped, oncologist was still pleased with progress. May 28 bleeding started again and could not be stopped. He passed away within a few hours. He did not even know he had Barrett's esophagus. The only issue that was a problem was foods with high fructose corn syrup. If he ate those then it caused some bloating and gas. So he avoided those foods and we checked nutrient labels avidly. There was such as increase of high fructose corn syrup in foods. Several oncologists said there was no link to that and Barrett's esophagus or the cancer. The cardiologist stated that chemotherapy can weaken the veins. How do you know you have cancer when the symptoms show up at a later stage! The oncologist thought the red blood count (low) was due to chemotherapy but there was a leaking vein in the esophagus around the tumor. According to the oncologist, bleeding veins is a complication of this type of cancer.

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Comment from: Daphne May, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: October 13

I am a 56 year old female. About 2 years before I was diagnosed with esophageal carcinoma I noticed my hair was thinning fast. I also noticed an ache type pain in my chest that would go through to my back. At that time I thought it was anxiety. The following year I felt angry & depressed, not my usual self! Then September 2014 I started to have trouble swallowing food, especially bread! It was painful and got worse by Christmas. I was diagnosed with esophageal carcinoma on 16/1/15. They thought it was stage 1-2. I started chemotherapy and radiation for 6 weeks. Then I had a 3 stage esophagectomy and found out the cancer was stage 3 B. I have just finished 3 months of chemotherapy &and am due for a CT scan in a few weeks, fingers crossed! To anyone else who is going down the same path, you are not alone, there are others of us going through the same thing. Never give up hope, be brave and do your homework, find the best doctors!

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Comment from: Texmar63, 65-74 Female (Caregiver) Published: January 06

My sister who is 68 was diagnosed last April with esophageal cancer. Her symptoms started as shortness of breath and feeling like something was stuck in her throat. She was always a smoker but after having bypass surgery about 6 years ago, she tried to quit and then was using the e-cigarettes when she was diagnosed. She started chemotherapy last May and continued till about November. She couldn't do radiation because the doctor said it would affect the bypass grafts. She became so sick from chemotherapy that he decided to stop it right after Thanksgiving. She is still very weak and was admitted to hospital this last weekend because of fluid in her lungs causing one lung to nearly collapse. She now has to have oxygen to help her breathe. This is a horrible disease and just keep hoping for a miracle to cure her.

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Esophageal Cancer - Prognosis and Stage Question: What is your esophageal cancer prognosis? What stage is your esophageal cancer?
Esophageal Cancer - Types Question: Do you or someone you know have adenocarcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus? Please share your story.
Esophageal Cancer - Risk Factors Question: Do you have any of the risk factors for esophageal cancer? What are they, and what are your concerns?
Esophageal Cancer - Diagnosis Question: What kinds of tests and exams led to a diagnosis of esophageal cancer?
Esophageal Cancer - Treatment Question: What kinds of treatment, including radiation or chemotherapy, did you receive for esophageal cancer?
Esophageal Cancer - Surgery Question: Please describe the surgical experience you or someone you know had for esophageal cancer.
Esophageal Cancer - Doctors & Second Opinion Question: How did you go about getting a second opinion for your esophageal cancer?
Esophageal Cancer - Prognosis & Follow-Up Care Question: What type of follow-up care did you receive for your esophageal cancer?

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