Dysphonia could be a warning sign of oesophageal cancer – ‘See a GP’

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Oesophageal cancer is a cancer that’s found anywhere in the oesophagus, sometimes called the gullet or food pipe. The generic nature of the symptoms linked to this deadly condition can make oesophageal cancer slip under the radar. Fortunately, knowing what to look for could be the first step in identifying the deadly culprit.

While there are various possible symptoms of oesophageal cancer, the tell-tale signs “might be hard to spot”, according to the NHS.

Early detection of any cancer type can help guarantee a better prognosis, which makes symptom awareness front and centre.

Symptoms of oesophageal cancer might not strike until the cancerous tumour is big enough to interfere with eating, which makes trouble swallowing the “first” warning sign.

However, dysphonia – a sign that targets your voice – could also ring alarm bells.

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Dysphonia, or hoarse voice, occurs when your voice sounds raspy, strained or breathy.

The volume – how loud or soft you speak – and the pitch of your voice – how high or low your voice sounds – may also change.

As oesophageal cancer grows, it may affect a nerve that controls your vocal cords, triggering changes in your voice.

In some cases, the vocal cord nerves can stop working completely, according to the National Cancer Institute’s centre City of Hope.

While dysphonia could alert you of the deadly condition, the symptom is also linked to other benign problems like allergies.

Fortunately, other tell-tale signs of oesophageal cancer can help identify the condition, including:

  • Having problems swallowing
  • Feeling or being sick
  • Heartburn or acid reflux
  • Symptoms of indigestion (such as burping a lot)
  • Cough that is not getting better
  • Loss of appetite or losing weight without trying to
  • Feeling tired or having no energy
  • Pain in your throat or the middle of your chest, especially when swallowing.

The NHS advises to “see a GP” if you are experiencing persisting symptoms pointing to oesophageal cancer.

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The health service notes: “You might find you get used to them. 

“But it’s important to be checked by a GP if your symptoms change, get worse, or do not feel normal for you.”

While having these symptoms doesn’t guarantee you have oesophageal cancer, it’s still crucial to get checked.

Fortunately, various lifestyle tweaks could reduce your risk of the daunting condition.

How to prevent oesophageal cancer

Between enjoying hot beverages and smoking, certain practices put you at a greater risk of the serious condition, according to Cancer Research UK.

In the UK, around 35 percent of oesophageal cancer cases are triggered by smoking – a statistic that highlights the importance of quitting.

Research also suggests that drinking very hot beverages or liquids can also increase your likelihood of this cancer, so you should allow a few minutes for cooling before enjoying your go-to hot beverage.

Other interventions such as cutting back on alcohol and maintaining a healthy weight can also help reduce your risk of oesophageal cancer.

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