Esophageal Cancer (cont.)
In this Article
- Esophageal cancer facts*
- What is the esophagus?
- What is cancer?
- What are the types of esophageal cancer?
- What is a tumor grade test?
- What tests are used to determine the stage of esophageal cancer?
- What are the stages of esophageal cancer?
- Stages I and II of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus
- Stages I and II of squamous cell cancer of the esophagus
- Stages III and IV of esophageal cancer (both types)
- What is the treatment for esophageal cancer?
- What doctors treat esophageal cancer?
- Should people get a second opinion after an esophageal cancer diagnosis?
- Radiation Therapy
- Targeted Therapy
- What follow-up care is necessary during recovery after esophageal cancer treatment?
- Where can people with esophageal cancer find support?
- What research is being done on esophageal cancer?
- Find a local Oncologist in your town
Most people with esophageal cancer get chemotherapy. It may be used alone or with radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs for cancer of the esophagus are usually given directly into a vein (intravenously) through a thin needle.
You'll probably receive chemotherapy in a clinic or at the doctor's office. People rarely need to stay in the hospital during treatment.
The side effects depend mainly on the drugs given and amount of chemotherapy that you get. Chemotherapy kills fast-growing cancer cells, but the drugs can also harm normal cells that divide rapidly:
- Blood cells: When drugs lower the levels of healthy blood cells, you're more likely to get infections, bruise or bleed easily, and feel very weak and tired. Your health care team will check for low levels of blood cells. If your levels are low, your health care team may stop the chemotherapy for a while or reduce the dose of the drug. They may also give you medicines that help your body to make new blood cells.
- Cells in hair roots: Chemotherapy may cause hair loss. If you lose your hair, it will grow back after treatment, but the color and texture may be changed.
- Cells that line the digestive tract: Chemotherapy can cause a poor appetite, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, or mouth and lip sores. Your health care team can give you medicines and suggest other ways to help with these problems.
When radiation therapy and chemotherapy are given at the same time, the side effects may be worse.
Your health care team can suggest ways to control many of these problems. Most go away when treatment ends.
People with esophageal cancer that has spread may receive a type of treatment called targeted therapy. This treatment can block the growth and spread of esophageal cancer cells.
Targeted therapy for cancer of the esophagus is usually given intravenously. The treatment enters the bloodstream and can affect cancer cells all over the body.
During treatment, your health care team will watch you for side effects. You may get diarrhea, belly pain, heartburn, joint pain, tingling arms and legs, or heart problems. Most side effects usually go away after treatment ends.
Questions you may want to ask your doctor about chemotherapy or targeted therapy
- Which drug or drugs do you suggest for me? What will they do?
- What are the possible side effects? What can we do about them?
- When will treatment start? When will it end? How often will I have treatments?
- How will we know the treatment is working?
- Will there be lasting side effects?
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