The goal of early stage treatment is to remove as much of the cancer as possible, while preserving the esophagus and its function. Additional treatment may help to prevent the spread or recurrence of cancer. The treatment plan will often include a combination of approaches based on the characteristics of the cancer, patient's age, general health, and prognosis.
Esophageal cancer is usually found in advanced stages, so treatment may focus on palliative care, or managing symptoms of the cancer and maintaining as good a quality of life as possible. Advanced cancer treatments can be difficult, so have an honest discussion about the risks and benefits before getting started. The 5-year survival rate for esophageal cancer is about 20%. Most deaths occur within the first year of diagnosis. Talk to your doctor about counseling or support groups. They can be beneficial for you and your family.
The healthcare team will be made up of a variety of health professionals including doctors, surgeons, nurses, and pharmacists. It is important to maintain contact with your medical team, adhere to recommended treatment, and go to any recommended appointments for best outcomes possible.
Esophageal cancer treatment includes:
- Radiation therapy
- Lifestyle changes
- Managing the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment
Existing treatment protocols have been established and continue to be modified through clinical trials. These research studies are essential to determine whether or not new treatments are both safe and effective. Since highly effective treatments for many cancers remain unknown, numerous clinical trials are always underway around the world. You may wish to ask your doctor about participating in a clinical trial. You can find out about clinical trials at the US National Institutes of Health website.
Esophageal and esophagogastric junction cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114816/Esophageal-and-esophagogastric-junction-cancer. Updated January 18, 2016. Accessed January 3, 2017.
Esophageal cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/tumors-of-the-gi-tract/esophageal-cancer. Updated July 2014. Accessed January 3, 2017.
Esophagus cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003098-pdf.pdf. Accessed January 3, 2017.
Treatment option overview. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/esophageal/patient/esophageal-treatment-pdq#section/_159. Updated July 19, 2016. Accessed January 3, 2017.
Last reviewed February 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD Last Updated: 3/10/2021