Hoarseness or the presence of a scratchy voice that doesn’t go away is a common symptom of esophageal cancer.
Unfortunately, this symptom is a sign that the tumor has advanced beyond the point where it can be surgically resected.
This symptom is caused by the tumor’s invasion of a nerve in the chest that controls your vocal cords: the recurrent laryngeal nerve. This structure is a branch of a bigger nerve known as the vagus nerve and it is located in a groove just between the trachea (windpipe) and the esophagus. This location is what makes the nerve extremely vulnerable to injury in esophageal cancer, resulting in laryngeal nerve palsy.