Cancer can cause a range of symptoms, from weight loss to extreme fatigue. Certain types of cancer may also lead to indigestion and heartburn.

Each type of cancer has a unique set of symptoms. However, many individuals with cancer experience some similar symptoms. These may include fatigue, appetite loss, headaches, and pain. Some forms of cancer can also cause indigestion, acid reflux, and heartburn.

This article explores whether heartburn can be a sign of cancer. Keep reading to learn about what types of cancer cause heartburn, other cancer symptoms, and more.

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Heartburn is a common condition that involves a burning sensation in the chest. It may occur after consuming too much alcohol, caffeine, or greasy food. It can also indicate a stomach ulcer or bacterial infection.

Many individuals experience occasional heartburn. Most of the time, it will resolve on its own or in response to medications that block stomach acid or neutralize it, such as omeprazole.

Some individuals with cancer experience acid reflux, indigestion, and heartburn. These symptoms may also cause increased hiccuping or burping.

Certain types of cancer can cause heartburn.

Stomach cancer is one type that can cause heartburn. This cancer begins with an abnormal growth of cancerous cells in the stomach. Over time, stomach cancer may cause swallowing difficulties, acid reflux, indigestion, and heartburn.

Heartburn may also be a sign of pancreatic or esophageal cancer.

Stomach cancer can lead to digestive issues, including stomach pain or heartburn. Symptoms of stomach cancer may also include:

  • weight loss
  • swallowing difficulties
  • indigestion
  • appetite loss

Individuals with esophageal cancer may also experience heartburn. Other symptoms of esophageal cancer include:

  • vomiting
  • indigestion
  • swallowing difficulties
  • throat pain

Finally, heartburn can also be a sign of pancreatic cancer. Individuals with pancreatic cancer may also experience:

  • indigestion
  • stomach or back pain
  • jaundice
  • weight loss

Anyone experiencing these and other symptoms should speak with a healthcare professional.

Cancer treatments that can cause heartburn

Individuals undergoing cancer treatment may also develop heartburn. A few cancer medications that can cause heartburn include:

Pain medications, such as ibuprofen, can also cause heartburn. Individuals taking these and other medications should share any new side effects with a healthcare professional.

The symptoms of cancer depend on the individual and the type of cancer. Some of the more common warning signs of cancer may include:

  • bloody stool or urine
  • a lingering cough
  • difficulties with eating or swallowing
  • sores that do not heal
  • lumps

Losing weight without making any lifestyle changes can indicate cancer. Unexplained bowel or bladder changes can also be a symptom of certain types of cancer.

Anyone experiencing these or other unexplained symptoms should contact a healthcare professional for a full examination. During a physical exam, they may identify potential signs of cancer. They can then conduct tests before making a formal diagnosis.

For many people, heartburn is a temporary condition that can resolve fully with at-home care. However, in some instances, heartburn can be a sign of a more serious health problem.

Individuals with persistent heartburn should contact a healthcare professional. They should also contact a healthcare professional if their heartburn does not improve with treatment or they experience other symptoms, such as:

  • vomiting
  • unexpected weight loss
  • difficulty breathing
  • stools that appear black or tarry
  • unexplained pain
  • jaundice
  • swallowing difficulties

Heartburn may be a sign of a common condition, such as GERD, or it could indicate a more serious condition, such as cancer.

The following are some questions people frequently ask about heartburn and cancer.

What are the 7 warning signs of cancer?

The warning signs of cancer can vary widely between individuals. However, there are seven warning signs of cancer, which may include:

  1. lumps in the breasts or other areas of the body
  2. changes in bladder or bowel habits
  3. extreme tiredness
  4. difficulties swallowing
  5. appetite loss
  6. unexplained weight loss
  7. vomiting and nausea

Anyone experiencing these or other symptoms should contact a healthcare professional.

Can acid reflux be mistaken for stomach cancer?

Heartburn is one of the most common symptoms of acid reflux. This condition may occur after consuming too much fast food, alcohol, or caffeine.

Stomach cancer can also cause heartburn. Other symptoms of this cancer may include stomach pain, appetite loss, swallowing difficulties, and tiredness.

Due to similar symptoms, it may be possible to mistake acid reflux for cancer. Anyone experiencing persistent heartburn should speak with a healthcare professional.

Should I be worried if I get heartburn every day?

Anyone who experiences heartburn every day should contact a healthcare professional. Frequent heartburn may occur as a result of lifestyle or dietary choices. However, it can also indicate a more serious health condition.

Cancer resources

To discover more evidence-based information and resources for cancer, visit our dedicated hub.

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Many individuals experience heartburn now and then. Rarely, it may be a sign of certain types of cancer.

Other symptoms of cancer may include unexpected weight loss, fatigue, pain, and appetite loss.

Stomach, esophageal, and pancreatic cancer can all cause heartburn. They can also cause vomiting and indigestion. Individuals experiencing heartburn along with other cancer symptoms should contact a healthcare professional.