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Difficulty swallowing some foods
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Difficulty swallowing some foods

I have am 55 woman, never smoked, do not drink much and am fit. Recently have I difficulty swallowing some foods, eg rice, pasta. I can eat porridge and soft food easily. The problem first appeared for 2 weeks a month ago and went again. However it reappeared for the last two weeks and has worsened and feels like heartburn. I have been to the doctor am scheduled for a barium test in 2 weeks. I have read information and am concerned about  oesophageal cancer. Should I try to rush the barium test, ask for other tests or could it be some less serious ?
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The barium test would be a reasonable test to consider.  In addition to cancer, things to consider would be an esophageal stricture, esophageal web, or GERD.  

Without examining you, I cannot comment on the possibility of cancer - although you certainly would want to do the test sooner rather than later.  If the barium swallow is inconclusive, an upper endoscopy would be the more comprehensive test.  

This can be discussed with your personal physician, or you can consider a GI referral.

Followup with your personal physician is essential.

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice - the information presented is for patient education only. Please see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.

Kevin, M.D.
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Hello Joh

Exactly the same thing happened to me, starting about a year and half ago. Eventually, I underwent a laryngoscopy (camera up nose and down throat), upper endoscopy (camera down throat into stomach) and a barium swallow. All that was uncovered was mild gastritis and h. pylori bacteria in my stomach (for which I was prescribed PrevPac), and some pooling of barium near the top of my esophagus when I swallowed. No strictures or malignancies were found, but reflux was noted, even though I have no heartburn and no evidence of damage to esophagus was found. A lot of reflux showed up on the barium swallow.

The gastroenterologist had few further suggestions. He said I could undergo a 24 hour manometry test, which measures the pressure in your esophageal muscles, but I didn't want to wear a thing down my throat and up my nose for that long.

One possibility was a condition called laryngopharyngeal reflux, where the reflux seems to travel quickly up past the esophagus and into the pharynx. This can affect the muscle at the top of your esophagus, apparently.

If you have heartburn, though, it sounds like reflux is a distinct possibility. If the dysphagia (trouble swallowing) comes and goes, like mine did, it does not sound like a permanent stricture like you would find with a malignancy. It sounds more like it's related to severity of reflux, which can be easily controlled with stuff like Prevacid.

Good luck!
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