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Esophageal cancer is not a type of cancer that is seen often but it is very difficult to cure. The chances of survival are higher if the cancer was discovered in the early stages but that rarely happens as the symptoms of cancer of the esophagus are similar to various other conditions. In a majority of patients the cancer is diagnosed when it has already progressed a lot. Another problem with esophageal cancer is that the experts are still unsure what the best treatment option is. A lot of doctors believe that the disease cannot be cured unless a surgical procedure is involved in the treatment.

Survival rate of esophageal cancer

Even though surgery is considered to be the only way of curing the disease, not every patient can undergo a surgical procedure. The main reasons why some patients cannot undergo surgery are the advanced stage of the cancer and the general health of the patient. If the patient is not considered to be strong enough, the doctor will not perform the surgery. In these situations non-operative therapy is the only remaining option. The main focus of these non-operative treatment options is to ease the symptoms and to provide palliation of dysphagia, which will enable them to eat normally. However, not every time the most successful mean of palliation can be used. It is quite often seen that a single patient is in need of several palliative methods in order to prolong the lumen patency for as long as he or she is suffering from the disease.

The 5-year survival rate is not at all high when cancer of the esophagus is considered. The main reason why that is so, is because by the time the cancer is diagnosed, the disease has progressed quite a lot. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are both used at the same time either before or after the surgery in order to increase the chances of survival. Chemotherapy administrated before the surgery is performed mainly to lessen the mass of the primary tumor prior to the surgery. Another goal of preoperative chemotherapy is to eliminate totally or at least prolong the time until the distant metastases occur.

Chemotherapy affects all the cancer cells, especially those that have progressed from the primary tumor. On the other hand, radiation therapy affects only the site of the tumor. The combination of these two treatments lasts for one and a half month in most situations. After that period, an esophageal resection is performed when a period of one month has passed. According to the data, between 15 and 20% of all patients experience a complete response to the treatment. These patients have more chances of survival. The remaining 80% of the patients experience no benefits whatsoever and do not increase the chances of survival.

Follow-up on the esophageal cancer

Being diagnosed with esophageal or any other cancer is shocking news for almost every person and it is a serious challenge. However, there are various forms of backup that will make life of the patient a little easier. Not every option is good for every patient but every patient will find at least one he or she will benefit from. People close to the patient are an essential source of support and it is vital that the patient does not stop talking to them. Apart from talking to them, a lot of doctors advise patients to find someone who is going through the same situation as them and talk to them as well. Communication with other patients is extremely beneficial. Getting to know as much as it is possible about the disease is of great significance. That way a person can prepare him or herself. Coming up with certain goals that are within reason is quite helpful. The patient needs to make sure that he or she dedicates a certain amount of time just for him or herself.

Recovery after a surgical procedure for cancer of the esophagus takes time. A person will not be able to consume food or liquids for a couple of days. At first, the patient will receive fluids through a drip. The main reason why eating and drinking are restricted is because the esophagus needs time to heal. Almost every patient who undergoes this surgery will lose some weight and that is normal. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy make a person experience fatigue. Due to this fact the patient may need to stop performing some of the normal activities in order to rest more.

After the treatment for cancer of the esophagus has finished, the patient will need to go on regular check-ups. During the first year after the treatment, most patients need to go on these check-ups no more than 4 times. At the check-ups the doctor will examine the patient in order to see how cancer is reacting to the treatment. Blood tests are done quite often as well.

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