Treatment of Oesophageal Cancer
Oesophageal cancer is treated according to its stage, exact location, general health, age and personal preferences. The basic and fundamental goal of the treatment is to take out cancerous cells and the tumour from the body. If this cannot be done, the specialist tries to prevent the tumour from growing any bigger. At times both these conditions become impossible. In such cases, the doctors provide the best treatment possible for calming and controlling the symptoms so as to lead a much comfortable life.
Before getting started with any kind of treatment, it is important to discuss about the right treatment available for you with the doctor. This is definitely a difficult decision and must be consulted with friends and other family members. It is essential to know the advantages and disadvantages of every course of the treatment to be followed.
The three main treatments of oesophageal cancer are:
Surgery: oesophagectomy and oesophagogastrectomy are two main surgeries that are used to cure oesophageal cancer.
Oesophagectomy: this is carried out when the oesophageal cancer is in the initial stages. It is done when the cancer is only in the oesophagus and not in the organs and tissues close to it. The part of the oesophagus which contains a tumour is removed, and the rest of the oesophagus is connected back to the stomach.
Oesophagogastrectomy: this is carried out in much advanced stages of cancer. The cancerous part of the gullet is taken out along with the surrounding lymph nodes and the upper area of the stomach. The rest of the stomach and oesophagus are connected back using a part of the large intestine.
It takes a few days to recover from the above mentioned surgeries. Initially no oral intake of food or liquids is allowed. Alternatively, fluids are given in the form of drips through the veins in the arm. Eventually, soft and easy to swallow foods are given for some time after which the usual diet can be followed. Loss of weight is very common post the surgery.
Chemotherapy: this treatment makes the use of anti-cancer medications to destroy the cancerous cells in the body, which are either taken orally or through injections. It is usually used along with radiotherapy and surgery. Some of the side effects of chemotherapy are:
Nausea and vomiting
Radiotherapy: this treatment is done using radiation energy beams to minimize the tumour and reduce the pain. As the tumour becomes smaller, it gets less obstructing, hence allowing easy passage of food through the gullet into the stomach. some of the side effects of radiotherapy are:
Swelling in the oesophagus
Rashes on the skin
Complications of oesophageal cancer
Difficulties in swallowing
Tracheoesophageal fistula – a condition when the tumour makes a hole between the windpipe and the oesophagus, which leads to gag and cough while swallowing.
Excessive weight loss
Metastasis – this refers to the cancerous cells transmitting into the surrounding organs and tissues.
Consumption of alcohol should be moderate
A balanced and healthy diet should be followed
A healthy weight should be maintained.
Oesophageal Cancer II
Treatment of Oesophageal Cancer