If you have any symptoms of oesophageal cancer, they need to be checked by your doctor.

What is oesophageal cancer?

Oesophageal cancer starts in the oesophagus, the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach.

Like the rest of your body, the oesophagus is made of tiny "building blocks" called cells.

Oesophageal cancer begins when these cells grow abnormally.

Cancer is a disease of the body's cells. It starts in our genes. Our bodies are constantly making new cells, a process controlled by certain genes. Cancers are caused by damage to these genes. As the damaged cells replicate a lump or tumour is formed. 

Tumours can be:

  • Benign - not cancerous. These do not spread to other parts of the body.
  • Malignant - cancerous


Oesophageal cancer symptoms

Signs and symptoms of oesophageal cancer may include:

  • difficult or painful swallowing
  • heartburn (indigestion)
  • vomiting blood
  • black or bloody poo (faeces)
  • tiredness or weakness (fatigue)

Often there are no signs of early-stage oesophageal cancer.

Having these symptoms does not mean you have oesophageal cancer, but it is important to have any changes checked by your doctor.

Tips for talking to your doctor

  • make a list of what you are feeling and how often it happens, including as much detail as possible
  • think about your family/whānau history of cancer and tell your doctor
  • go back to your doctor if you don't feel better, even if tests show you don't have a problem - you can ask for a second opinion if you want one 
  • take a family/whānau member or friend with you to the appointment for support
Need someone to talk to?
8:30 am to 5:00 pm Monday to Friday
0800 226 237 Information nurse

We know that going through cancer is tough and can raise many questions. You are not alone.

We have health professionals to answer your questions and provide the support you need. Get in touch

Last updated: December 22, 2022