Concerned about esophageal cancer..what the heck else could cause temporary trouble swallowing?

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I'm a 26-year-old male of average weight who has had intermittent issues with heartburn for the last five or six years. Two months ago, I experienced some really worrying symptoms, but I never got them checked out. This was during a period of time when I was eating a lot of spicy food and drinking quite a lot of coffee.

Anyway--I had issues swallowing for about 4 days. This was all preceded by a horrible bitter taste at the back of my throat for a few weeks, that seemed to only occur anytime I drank more than a cup of coffee. It was associated with increased mucus production, and it was the mucus that tasted bad. 

When the pain struck, it was so weird, like a pain in my chest every time I swallowed, that I could literally feel as my food went down. I remember one time while I experienced this swallowing difficulty, I woke up, coughed, and felt something in my mouth. I spat it out into my hand and it was this piece of something green that smelled absolutely smelled exactly like that bitter taste that I maybe it was regurgitated food.

I actually suffer from health anxiety, and I had myself convinced that I was going to die from esophageal cancer during this period of swallowing problems. I relaxed on the spicy food and coffee, took some lansoprazole (I think that's the name), and the swallowing issue went away. It hasn't yet returned.

But for the last three weeks, I've had a cough that I can't seem to shake off. And one problem that hasn't quite resolved yet is the horrible bitter taste in my mucus, especially after drinking more than one cup of coffee.

I'm struggling to think what else could've caused that temporary swallowing issue? And now with my cough, I'm worried about cancer again. Can a normal case of GERD flare up to the extent that you experience pain when swallowing for a few days?

1 like, 5 replies


5 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Ronan, sorry to hear of your troubles, it is very stressful. Try giving up coffee totally, if you can't go cold turkey, cut back each day, it will probably come to the point when the thought of a coffee will give you heartburn and you wont want one! You may have LPR. Have you had an endoscopy done? If not get a referral to a Gastroenterologist. Also, are you getting help for the anxiety? Wishing you all the best.

    • Posted


      Thanks for your reply. I've unfortunately never had any diagnostic tests done. I've heard that if you have esophageal cancer, by the time it shows symptoms, it's normally too late to do anything to help it.

      Even years ago when I first went to my doc about heartburn, he just said that's what it was and sent me for no further testing. An endoscopy might be a good idea, but I'll need to convince my doc to refer me for one first, because that's how the medical system works in my country. Unless we choose to go private but if I had the money for that I wouldn't be posting here because I'd already have paid to know what my problem is. 

      I am just concerned looking back on that swallowing problem because I can't see how GERD could be aggravated to the point that it causes difficulty swallowing. Plus, strangely enough, I didn't really have heartburn at the time. 

      Anxiety has been a life-long issue that I am still working on. I've heard SSRIs are good for anxious people but any I've tried, I've had to give up after a week due to side-effects. Benzodiazepines help but they aren't a feasible long-term solution. 

    • Posted

      I wouled ded follow up on Endoscopy. Throat symptoms can be LPR (check google) and related to reflux. Mineis manageable if I don't overeat, or eat the wrong thing. I'm on somac twice daile and motillium before meals. Seems to help. If you get proper diagnosis and management it may alleviate your symptoms and help with your anxiety. Tell your doc it's been going on too long and you need proper diagnosis. Try to enjoy Christmas.


  • Posted

    Hi mate I am no doctor but u should get it checked out don't sound good I don't think it's cancer tho I had the Nissan foundation op for gerd and hernia repair I am 33 .

    I had it done 8 weeks ago since op I lv had no heart burn well feeling it any way but still have that bad taste in my mouth burning tuonge and bad throat I just want my life back I was told the op would solve the problem but it haven't iv lost 2 stone in weight and was only 12@half to begin with at 6 ft tall I feel I'll and look it don't think any doctors now wot to do to solve the probs in that area life sucks for me at the moment hope u get some answers

  • Posted

    I had hose exact symptoms laysting for a few weeks.. could not eat a salad or stringy type foods without gagging on them. I had a scope done which show laryngo-pharyngeal reflux or LPR. Given the history of bad taste, reflux, diet and mucous production it sounds like you may have that too. Always get stuff checked out but doesn't sound like cancer to me..mine eventually went a way with some diet changes and temporary meds and elevating the head of the bed helped a lot.


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