Oesophageal Patients Association
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A dry tickley cough

Before I was diagnosed with OC, I had had a dry cough for several months. Did anyone else have a cough? My cancer was stage one, just a tiny pink spot on the photo taken during the endoscopy. I had no symptoms of the cancer, just the cough. I'm trying to work out how a tiny pink spot in my esophagus could have made me cough. It wasn't big enough to put pressure on my trachea. Or was there no connection between the two things?

11 Replies

I do not recall having a dry tickley cough but everyone has different symptoms. I may have in the earliest stages but obviously did not pay attention to my problem for quite sometime. I got to the point that I would chew food then gag on it and not be able to swallow it all. I also had horrific pain in my abdomen where I felt like, which I am not quite certain where I came up with this description but a staple gun shooting into my abdomen and just a sense of not feeling well at all which led me into checking into the ER after I had gone to what we call Urgent care and the Physicans assistant stated that I may have a bleeding Ulcer. Mine went to far and I was not taking care of myself properly and had a lot of stress in my life caring for others and forgot myself! Not quite certain this helps but do understand that we are all trying to figure out how we got to the point we did having had OC. After my surgery I was T2N1 at first was diagnosed T3? I really hope we can help prevent others with the knowledge we are all gaining!


Thank you for replying Listen. The staple gun pain sounds ouch! I hope you are doing OK at the moment.

The selfish reason I want to know if the cough is a symptom of early OC is I've had that same cough again for the last five weeks. And like the rest of us I keep wondering if IT's back. The Doc thinks it's a chest infection and has given me antibiotics. I know she's probably right. but part of me keeps thinking OC especially as I'm losing weight again.


If it is back is our constant! Every time I have a strange ache or pain I wonder? From reading this site it sounds like everyone has a cough here and there and your Doc. is I am certain correct! Are you eating regularly? How much weight have you lost? Is the cough causing you to not want to eat? Can you contribute the weight loss to anything specific?

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I'm 5 years post op., and I've been quite well except for dumping etc. But since Christmas I've been slowly losing weight. and feeling very tired, and just not interested in food. Nothing tastes right, and if I force myself to eat I end up dumping. Up till Christmas my weight had stayed the same for several years, and I thought I knew what I could eat and what I couldn't. But now it's such an effort to even think about food.


I didn`t have any symptons at all, I used to drink and eat normally...but suffered with regular indigestion and heartburn. I was going for regular endoscopies for Barratts. It was during a routine checkup they noticed the cancer.

Luckily it was at a very early stage so within 6 weeks (including the Xmas period) I had all the tests and went straight in for the op, no chemo or radio as the consultant said due to it being small it would make no difference.

Now 3 years post op, still get a bit of reflux and if I over indulge, the odd dumping, but if I hadn`t have had regular checks it could have gone unnoticed for years.

Regards to everybody.


Some people have a cough because of reflux. And there are a (small-ish) proportion of people (see the poll) who do not feel the reflux as heartburn at all, but do have a persistent cough. The reflux may then affect the larynx / pharynx rather than the oesophagus.

Lots of people do have a persistent cough after the surgery anyway, and this seems to be because the lungs have had a bashing in the process, and it sometimes takes months before it settles down, especially if you have not yet acquired a comfortable ability to fill your lungs and exercise them normally.

Coughs do take quite a bit of sorting out, and if your GP thinks it is an infection, then that appears to be the straightforward explanation. Sometimes the antibiotics seem to need to be quite specific before it gets knocked on the head.

It is a very natural thing to wonder whether twinges, coughs or other pains are recurrence of cancer. You do not want to be thought of as being paranoid, but you do need to be reassured. It is an issue of getting used to your body again and gaining confidence in assessing what might be a warning sign, and what might be aches and pains that we are all entitled to because of age and what has been done to our bodies before they settle down properly. From conversations I have had with people who have had troubles, the anxiety will always be there to some extent, but gradually you do get more confidence, and then an instinct that somehow indicates much more clearly / differently whether it really is something that you need to be have checked regarding a recurrence, if that makes sense?

Just as an aside, when you get treated with Stage 1 cancer, your chances of recurrence, statistically, are quite small.


Nice reassuring reply! You are spot on Alan. I truly appreciate your very scientific advise!


Alan is always spot on! I don't think he's ever written anything I could disagree with!


Hi Patchwork.

I had exactly the same as you only my OC was T3 but no chemo afterwards. I don't know if there is a connection but I am still suffering from the same tickly cough 5 years on.

Best Regards



I suffered from major bouts of coughing for several years after my op (now nearly ten years ago). I always attributed this to reflux. Although very much less nowadays I get the occasional bout of "heavy" coughing which again I believe is the result of reflux.


The "cough" which with my case ranged from "dry tickly" to "smoker's early morning" was the main reason, after many months of nagging from my partner, that I consulted my doctor, I had assumed some form of throat/ lung infection. Endoscope exam showed Barretts (Nov2013) and OC (Jan 2015). (9-10 cm long and T2 N1). Get it looked at asap. I'm now 5wks into 9wks of ECX chemo and expect to get an operation May/June this year


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