Skip to Content

Esophageal Cancer, Ambulatory Care

Esophageal cancer

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:

  • Warm, tender, swollen, red, and painful arm or leg
  • Chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough
  • Suddenly feeling lightheaded and short of breath
  • Coughing up blood

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. Smoking increases your risk for new or returning cancer. Smoking can also delay healing after treatment. 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 nutritionist 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.

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. 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.

© 2016 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.

Hide