A sign of cancer one should not neglect: difficulty swallowing

New symptoms of difficulty swallowing or a feeling like food is getting stuck in your throat can be worrying. Swallowing is often a process that people do instinctively and without thinking. You want to know why and how to fix it. You may also wonder if difficulty swallowing is a sign of cancer.
Although cancer is one possible cause of dysphagia, it is not the most likely cause. Most often, dysphagia may be a non-cancerous condition such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) (chronic acid reflux) or dry mouth.
This article will look at the causes of dysphagia, as well as the symptoms to look out for.
The medical term for dysphagia is dysphagia. This can be experienced and described in different ways. Symptoms of dysphagia may come from the mouth or the esophagus (the food tube from the mouth to the stomach).
Patients with esophageal causes of dysphagia may describe slightly different symptoms. They may experience:
Most causes of dysphagia are not caused by cancer and may be caused by other causes. The act of swallowing is a complex process that requires many things to function properly. Dysphagia can occur if any of the normal swallowing processes are disrupted.
Swallowing begins in the mouth, where chewing mixes saliva with food and begins to break it down and prepare it for digestion. The tongue then helps push the bolus (a small, round piece of food) through the back of the throat and into the esophagus.
As it moves, the epiglottis closes to keep food in the esophagus rather than in the trachea (windpipe), which leads to the lungs. The muscles of the esophagus help push food into the stomach.
Conditions that interfere with any part of the swallowing process can cause symptoms of dysphagia. Some of these conditions include:
Although not necessarily the most likely cause, difficulty swallowing can also lead to cancer. If dysphagia persists, worsens over time, and occurs more frequently, cancer may be suspected. In addition, other symptoms may occur.
Many types of cancer may present with symptoms of difficulty swallowing. The most common cancers are those that directly affect the swallowing structures, such as head and neck cancer or esophageal cancer. Other types of cancer may include:
A disease or condition that affects any swallowing mechanism can cause dysphagia. These types of diseases may include neurological conditions that can affect memory or cause muscle weakness. They may also include situations where medications needed to treat the condition may cause dysphagia as a side effect.
If you are having difficulty swallowing, you may want to discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider. It is important to note when symptoms appear and whether there are any other symptoms.
You should also be prepared to ask your doctor questions. Write them down and carry them with you so you never forget to ask them.
When you experience dysphagia, it can be a worrying symptom. Some people may worry that it is caused by cancer. Although possible, cancer is not the most likely cause. Other conditions, such as infection, gastroesophageal reflux disease, or medications, can also cause difficulty swallowing.
If you continue to have difficulty swallowing, talk to your doctor and evaluate the cause of your symptoms.
Wilkinson JM, Cody Pilley DC, Wilfat RP. Dysphagia: assessment and co-management. I am a family doctor. 2021;103(2):97-106.
Noel KV, Sutradar R, Zhao H, et al. Patient-reported symptom burden as a predictor of emergency department visits and unplanned hospitalization for head and neck cancer: a longitudinal population-based study. JCO. 2021;39(6):675-684. Number: 10.1200/JCO.20.01845
Julie Scott, MSN, ANP-BC, AOCNP Julie is a certified adult oncology nurse practitioner and freelance healthcare writer with a passion for educating patients and the healthcare community.


Post time: Sep-22-2023