Esophageal Cancer

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Esophageal Cancer (Inpatient Care) Care Guide

Esophageal cancer starts in the cells that line the esophagus.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

You may bleed more than expected or get an infection after surgery. After surgery, you may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. The clot may travel to your heart or brain and cause life-threatening problems, such as a heart attack or stroke. Treatment may cause pain when you eat or swallow liquids. If the cancer is not treated, it can spread to other parts of your body and be life-threatening.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Nutrition:

If you have trouble swallowing, you may be given foods that are soft or in liquid form. Ask your caregiver about any extra nutrition you may need, such as nutrition shakes. Tell your caregiver if you have problems eating, or you feel sick after you eat.

Medicines:

  • Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.

  • Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.

Tests:

You may need more than one of the following:

  • Biopsy: Your caregiver may need to take a sample of tissue from your esophagus to find out if you have esophageal cancer.

  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your esophagus and other organs. The pictures may show cancer and if it has spread. You may be given a dye before the pictures are taken to help caregivers see the pictures better. Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.

  • MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your esophagus and other organs. An MRI may show if the cancer has spread. You may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the caregiver if you have any metal in or on your body.

  • Endoscopy: This test may also be called an EGD. Your caregiver uses a small tube with a camera on the end to look at the lining of your esophagus, stomach, and part of your small intestine.

Treatment:

You may need more than one of the following:

  • Surgery: Surgery to remove part of your esophagus or lymph nodes may help stop the cancer from spreading.

  • Chemotherapy: This medicine, often called chemo, is used to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may also be used to shrink the tumor or lymph nodes before surgery. Once the tumor is smaller, surgery can be done to remove the cancer.

  • Radiation therapy: This therapy is used to kill cancer cells with x-rays or gamma rays. Radiation may be given after surgery to kill cancer cells that were not removed. It may be given alone or with chemotherapy to treat cancer.

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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