A retrospective review of 225 patients was made with regard to the symptoms of carcinoma of the oesophagus and gastric cardia, and the duration of the symptoms before medical attention was sought and before the establishment of the diagnosis. The age of the patients was 37-84 (mean 62·5) years (139 male, 86 female). The most common symptoms were dysphagia (93%), loss of weight (46%), vomiting (33%), gastric pain (25%) and thoracic pain (21%).
The average duration of the symptoms before the establishment of the diagnosis was 4·1 months in carcinoma of the oesophagus and 4·3 months in carcinoma of the gastric cardia. The patients with oesophageal disease had sought medical attention on average 5 weeks earlier than those with gastric disease. The role of the physician who initially examines the patient is decisive for early diagnosis.