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Health.com: 9 Serious Conditions That Mimic Heartburn

Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer is rare, but its incidence is rising rapidly in the United States, Dr. Madanick says.

"If you have heartburn, it might be a sign of esophageal cancer, but it's highly unlikely," he says. Your doctor may decide to order an upper endoscopy to examine your esophagus if you've got long-standing heartburn, especially if you smoke or drink heavily, both of which are risk factors for esophageal cancer.

This test involves passing a tube with a light and a camera at one end down your throat into your esophagus. During the test, your doctor can look for abnormal areas as well as collect tissue samples to test for cancer.

(Photo: Getty Images)
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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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