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Esophageal cancer is not one of the cancer types that occurs quite often but is one of the hardest to treat. There are a lot of reasons why that is so, but the main reason is probably the difficulty to diagnose the symptoms. The symptoms of esophageal cancer do not occur until the cancer has progressed quite a lot. Treatment options for cancer of the esophagus are not plenty. Surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are used most often. Surgery is the preferable option in situations when the cancer was discovered in the early stage as the chances of recovery are the highest then.

Esophageal cancer treatment

Problems with swallowing are the most often seen symptom of esophageal cancer and it is the main reason why a person may go to the hospital in the first place. The cancer tends to make the esophagus a lot narrower than it normally is and that is why esophageal patients experience difficulty swallowing. In some situations the tumor may be so large that it blocks the passage entirely. Even in the situations where the cancer cannot be cured, the doctors will focus on relieving the symptoms and these treatment options will help a person swallow more easily. In majority of situations the providing as much relief for as long as possible is the goal of these treatments as esophageal cancer can be cured only in rare cases. Chemotherapy is the type of treatment that most doctors will order when the size of the cancer needs to be reduced. However, that is not possible in every situation and in some situations the doctors may order a laser treatment or stent. Laser treatments are administrated during an endoscopy. Before the endoscopy a patient will be given either a local anesthetic or even a general anesthetic and no pain will be felt. An endoscope is a flexible tube with a camera on it. Through this camera the doctor is able to see inside the esophagus as the picture is shown on the screen. Through endoscope the doctor also passes the instruments that are used for the procedure.

Laser treatment options

Laser therapy functions by a very strong beam of light being directed on the tissue. With the use of this extremely powerful and hot beam the doctors are able to cut through the tumor. The laser treatment does not get rid of the entire tumor. However, it does aid in relieving the symptoms and the patient is able to swallow a lot easier after it as the tumor will no longer block the passage.

When the doctor has located the tumor through the endoscope, he or she will pass the laser through the tube. Only when the laser is in the exact position the doctor will switch the beam on. After that, the doctor tries to destroy as much tumor as he or she possibly can. After the laser is used, the tube is taken out of the throat and after some time has passed the anesthesia will wear off.

The good thing about this laser treatment is that the side effects occur almost never. Due to this fact the patient is able to leave the hospital on the same day of the procedure. If that is the case, the patient should arrange that someone comes to pick him or her up from the hospital and take him or her home. The main reason why that is so, is because the patient will not be able to drive due to the anesthetic. Public transport should be avoided because of the same reason. However, not every patient is allowed to go home on the same day and in some situations the doctor may ask the patient to remain in the hospital until tomorrow. The tumor tends to grow back again after being destroyed with laser therapy. This is not that unusual and in some patients there is need for the treatment to be repeated every month of six weeks.

Laser therapy is not the only available option for esophageal cancer. Argon plasma coagulation is available as well and it is not that different from laser therapy. This treatment functions by using argon gas and electricity in order to destroy the cancer. This is an excellent option for the clearing of the tumor in the food pipe.

Photodynamic therapy of PDT can be used for relieving problems with swallowing as well. Even though a laser is used in this therapy it is not the same option as laser therapy. The main difference is that the patient will take a certain drug before the therapy. The drug is supposed to make the cancer cells extremely sensitive to light.

Laser therapy is not advised for every patient and the doctor will talk to the patient about the best possible option. The patient should also learn all about the benefits and side effects of the treatments before making a decision.

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