Treatment and care of people with cancer is usually provided by a team of health professionals, both medical and allied health, called a multidisciplinary team.
Surgery is commonly used to treat oesophageal cancer. This involves removing the affected part of the oesophagus, as well as the upper part of the stomach and some nearby lymph nodes. The healthy part of the oesophagus is joined back to the remaining part of the stomach. Rarely, the oesophagus may need to be reconnected to the small or large bowel instead of the stomach.
Risks of oesophageal surgery include pneumonia, infection, bleeding, blood clots, and leaking from the connection between the oesophagus and the stomach. Surgery will affect your eating and digestion – for example, you might need to eat small meals more often throughout the day. A period of adaptation, often with help from a dietitian, will be needed to adjust to these changes.
Chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy is usually used before surgery to try to shrink the tumour and kill microscopic cells. These treatments might also be used after surgery in some circumstances to kill any remaining cancer cells. They might also be used as palliative treatments to relieve symptoms, such as difficulty swallowing, and improve quality of life. Stents may also be offered and these are inserted into the oesophagus to help swallowing.
Research is ongoing to find new ways to diagnose and treat different types of cancer. You may be invited to participate in a clinical trial to test new ways of treating oesophageal cancer.
To find out more about clinical trials and whether you can participate, visit the Australian Cancer Trials website.
Cancer Council Australia (2017). Oesophageal cancer.
Cancer Council Australia (2015). Understanding stomach and oesophageal cancers.