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Oesophageal Patients Association
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My dad has been referred for an endoscopy, is it cancer?

My dad (58yo) has informed me today that his GP has referred him for an endoscopy because he suspects cancer. He's lost 3kg in 3 months and medication that was prescribed to him for all his symptoms isn't making a difference. This weekend has been particularly bad and he hasn't been able to eat and has been sick several times.

Please may I ask (in your experience), how likely it could be that it's cancer? The appointment is in 2 weeks (wouldn't it be sooner if they suspected cancer). He's had these symptoms for around 6 months ish (I think).

What else could it be if medication isn't working or is it normal for medication not to have an affect?

Thank you


11 Replies

*Edit* - sorry I realise i've thrown this post together in a panic. I'm frantically googling what else it could be and it's frightening because symptoms do point towards it being 'C' but they're also characteristic of other conditions too.

He has the heart burn, pain whenever he tries to swallow, being sick, feeling like something is always stuck, and a pain in his chest.

Would his GP refer him if he didn't think there's a high chance it could be 'C'?

Sorry i'm just so worried.

Thank you.


I still google & it's counter-productive. Try to calm down & listen to his doctor who may want him to see a gastroenterologist (G.I.). If it is a form of "C" there are so many options available for recovery. Try to be thankful that you have a good G.P.


hi Lydia,

I'm sure you must feel frantic - it's horrible to see loved ones poorly and fearing the worst.

I don't have medical knowledge other than what I learned from my husband's experience, but a feeling of food sticking needs investigating - this was the only symptom my he had and he didn't tell me until he'd had it a few months. He was diagnosed with cancer, but I can tell you it is not the beginning of the end, even if it seems that way initially. You only have to look at the posts here to read how many are successfully treated. Also, keep in mind that it may NOT be cancer.

If your dad cannot keep liquids down and is in severe pain, I would suggest he get in touch with his GP urgently - 2 weeks without nourishment is too long . Your GP might be willing to contact the hospital to push for an urgent appointment You can also try ringing the endoscopy unit to see if they have any cancellations, so he can be seen earlier (people do cancel).

Best wishes to you both - I hope things are resolved soon - and don't Google any more !!

Elaine X

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Hi Lydia, easy to say but- there is no point in worrying as it only becomes self perpetuating - He appears to have many of the symptoms but an endoscopy then scans will show everything, I certainly agree that asking for a cancellation will speed things up as you would be amazed at how many people do cancel theirs. Be reassured that if the worst is diagnosed then there are good routes for him to journey down and as can be seen from this forum many of us have traveled it. I am almost 8 years post diagnosis and whilst I ( 6 ft) am now 11.5 st ( was 15.5) I returned to work (since retired) and am enjoying life. A diagnosis of CANCER (lets not hide from the word) is NOT the end of the world or indeed the end of his life and it is my belief that a positive mental attitude from both him and his loved ones will make a massive difference. I hope he gets the endoscopy soon and a treatment plan quickly sorted but whatever the outcome stay positive . Good luck for the immediate future and keep us in touch with how things go - Ray


Dear Lydia

The GP has done the right thing in referring your dad for an endoscopy, because he has tried medication and it has not worked, so it needs an endoscopy to work out exactly what is wrong. Most endoscopies in this situation turn out not to be cancer. It could be a stomach ulcer, or a number of other things, not cancer. The 2 week wait system is the standard urgent referral system but it tends to be used for all kinds of cases where the GP does not want the patient to hang around for a number of weeks for an appointment.

Nobody can guarantee that it is not cancer, but it does need to be checked out, and until he has the test there will not be a diagnosis. But I understand the urgency of wanting to know for sure.


Hi Lydia, I was referred for an endoscopy too. I've suffered from reflux oesophagitus for 26 years. Then the acid eventually damaged the lining of the oesophegas and cancer cells began to spread and multiply quite quickly. I too lost weight unexpectedly and had a bit of trouble swallowing food. Nothing that you would really notice. Anyhow, I ended up with a 7cm tumour treated with radiotherapy and chemotherapy and then surgery - 5 months after the originally diagnosis. I had what is called an Ivor Lewis (IL) procedure, which was successful. 2 years down the track I am cancer free. I still have bad days though with nausea, tiredness, loss of appetite. I lost about 15kg but I'm working full time and back worrying about all the stuff I said I'd never worry about if I survived this. The treatment does take time and 2 or 3 weeks won't make a difference to your father's prognosis. My only advice from people I met when I had my treatment is to make sure plenty of samples from the lymphatic system are taken before deciding on treatment because it your father does have cancer and if it has spread, he may choose a different plan of treatment. Try not to worry until you have all the facts, the hardest part for me on my journey was being upset about everyone worrying about me. I preferred to go on as if all these things were happening to someone else, it was like I was an observer looking on and just dealing with each day as it came. I still do that. Hope this helps.


Thank you for all your replies. I'm still trying to get my head around it all and act like normal. Like you say, there's no use in worrying, even if it does turn out to be Cancer. It won't change anything. I think I worry more because he's my mums full time carer, she is severly brain damaged from a stroke 3 years ago and has little cognitive and physical abilities. They're both 58/59 years old, life is so unfair.

I'm 26 myself and nearing the end of the first year of my midwifery degree. I worry that I won't reach it to the end of the the three years :(

Thank you everyone.


Oh lladay ,my heart goes out to you .You're so young and have so much on your plate .

Such a difficult situation with your mum so poorly and to have these worries about your parents who are also young seems awful .

I can only say that the waiting for the dx is worse than actually being dx with cancer . Once you know you can make a plan .Not knowing is agonising and dissempowering .

With cancer of the oesphageous I think it's common for the tumour to be quite far down ,near the junction of the oesphageous and the stomach .IME what happens is that the food goes down and then the person starts to choke and to regurgitate food .Which is slightly different to being sick ,but of course it's hard to describe .

If it's any comfort I was dx at 63 ,had the op and pre and post chemo .I was my mum's carer .I did manage to find a lovely carer who helped but I did manage an awful lot of her care throughout .I coped well with the chemo ( they have fantastic anti emetics now ) and the op .

I hope you have support from friends and siblings ,and other family memebers . Hang on in there .Take one day at a time .

Remember that a lot of research you read on google is by necessity out of date by the time it is published and that the treatment ,care and outcome for this cancer is much advanced and improved .

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I've got very similar symptoms that your dads got. Food sometimes painful to swallow, l can feel it sort of dragging down, a very uncomfortable feeling sometimes in the middle of my chest and food totally getting stuck and me ending up having to go to the bathroom and eventually up it comes. I haven't lost any weight because of it because I have spells of being able to swallow, but when it flares up I'm afraid to eat.

I was referred by my gp for an endoscopy and everything was fine. Had biopsies done and nothing found. Without boring you with the story I asked to be referred to a consultant at my hospital. I had another endoscopy done and this time a small hiatus hernia was found and I had loads more biopsies done, again apart from the hernia everything was normal. I've since had a manometry test and a 24hr ph test done and I am waiting for the test results. Consultant wants to rule out a condition called achalasia (which I gave virtually all the symptoms of) and to define the hernia.

I know we always think the worse in these circumstances and going on Dr Google doesn't help. Hope reading about me has helped a little.

P.S. I did post on here before I had the manometry test done because I was anxious about having it done. I found the test not too bad at all, not painful but uncomfortable just like you kind people said it would be. When I get the results I will update.



We've since had the letter through with his appointment details, it includes the Cancer Research leaflet but the actual letter has no mention of an endoscopy. It just says that he's meeting a specialist.

Being the stubborn person he is my dad won't call them to ask them whether he's having a test/procedure done, he's happy to just turn up and see. I assume he won't be having anything done or the letter would state that , would it?

If he's not having an endoscopy yet then maybe the GP isn't as concerned as we thought he was?


If you're dads having an endoscopy done he will be given advice on eating and drinking before the procedure. I think you cannot eat for six hours before and cannot drink for two. So it sounds like he won't be having anything done at the appointment.

Reading what you put in your original post about his weight loss and losing 3kg in 3 months. If you break it down it's only just over half a pound a week and if he's like me, when the food gets stuck and you manage to bring it back up your frightened of eating anymore because you don't want it to happen again. So try not to worry too much about that.

Don't think you've got long to wait now for his appointment. Tell him to write everything down that he wants to tell the consultant so he doesn't forget anything.

Hope this post helps and let us know how he gets on. x


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