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Cancer - esophagus
When esophageal cancer is only in the esophagus and has not spread, surgery is the treatment of choice. The goal of surgery is to remove the cancer.
Sometimes chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of the two may be used instead of surgery, or to make surgery easier to perform.
If the patient is too ill to have major surgery or the cancer has spread to other organs, chemotherapy or radiation may be used to help reduce symptoms. This is called palliative therapy. In such cases, the disease is usually not curable.
Other treatments that may be used to help the patient swallow include:
Patients can often ease the stress of illness by joining a support group of people who share common experiences and problems. See cancer - support group.
Esophageal cancer is usually not curable. When the cancer has not spread outside the esophagus, surgery may improve the chances of survival.
Radiation therapy is used instead of surgery in some cases where the cancer has not spread outside the esophagus.
For patients whose cancer has spread, a cure is generally not possible. Treatment is directed toward relieving symptoms.
Call your health care provider if you have difficulty swallowing with no known cause and it does not get better, or if you have other symptoms of esophageal cancer.
Das A. Tumors of the esophagus. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2010:chap 46.
National Cancer Institute. Esophageal Cancer Treatment PDQ. Updated July 20, 2010.
National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc.
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