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starts in the cells that line the esophagus.
Common symptoms include the following:
- Difficult or painful swallowing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Chest or stomach pain or discomfort
- Bloody bowel movements or diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss without trying
Call 911 for any of the following:
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You have chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded and short of breath.
- You cough up blood.
Contact your oncologist if:
- You have a fever.
- You vomit multiple times and cannot keep food or liquids down.
- You feel you cannot cope with your illness.
- You are bleeding from your mouth or nose.
- You have pain that does not decrease or go away after you take your pain medicine.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Treatment for esophageal cancer
may include any of the following:
- Surgery may be needed to remove part of your esophagus or lymph nodes. This may help stop the cancer from spreading.
- Chemotherapy 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 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.
Manage your esophageal cancer:
- Do not smoke. Nicotine can damage blood vessels and make it more difficult to manage your esophageal cancer. Smoking also increases your risk for new or returning cancer and delays healing after treatment. Do not use e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in place of cigarettes or to help you quit. They still contain nicotine. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help quitting.
- Limit or do not drink alcohol as directed. Men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks per day. Women should limit alcohol to 1 drink per day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.
- Eat healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Take small bites, and chew your food well before you swallow. Be especially careful when you eat meat, fruits, and vegetables. You may need to change what you eat during treatment. A dietitian may help to plan the best meals and snacks for you.
- Drink liquids as directed. If you have nausea or diarrhea from cancer treatment, extra liquids may help decrease your risk for dehydration. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
- Exercise as directed. Exercise may help increase your energy level and appetite. Ask your healthcare provider how much exercise you need and which exercises are best for you.
Follow up with your oncologist as directed:
You may need to see your oncologist for ongoing tests or treatment. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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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.