Esophageal Cancer FAQs
If you have been recently diagnosed with esophageal cancer and are feeling anxious or scared, you should know that you are not alone. A cancer diagnosis and all of the uncertainty that comes with it is likely to cause a number of complex emotions that you might not fully understand. Perhaps one of the most important things you can do during this difficult time is surround yourself with loved ones to provide you with support as you begin this journey.
Another way to help combat some of the initial anxiety you are likely feeling is to learn as much as possible about esophageal cancer and how it is treated so that you have a better idea of what to expect as you begin treatment. Here at Moffitt Cancer Center, we’ve compiled some information to help you navigate some of the emotions that accompany a cancer diagnosis. Check out the articles below to learn more:
- What are some questions to ask before having esophageal cancer surgery?
Prior to surgery, it’s important to ask your physician any questions you have so that you can go into the procedure feeling confident and prepared. Ask questions regarding the details of your surgery, including how long it will take, what to expect from recovery, etc. This list of questions is a good place to start, if you are unsure of what to ask.
- What are the possible side effects of esophageal cancer surgery?
With any surgical procedure, side effects will vary from patient to patient. But, generally speaking, you can expect that there are going to be some physical side effects following your esophageal cancer surgery as your body recovers and readjusts to processing food. Some of these symptoms include pain, nausea, vomiting, trouble swallowing and heartburn.
- What should I expect after esophageal cancer surgery?
Following esophageal cancer surgery, you can expect to be hospitalized for several days. Postoperative experiences vary from patient to patient, but some of the general side effects you might encounter include pain, trouble swallowing, heartburn, fatigue and a change in nutritional needs. Knowing what to expect following your upcoming esophageal cancer surgery can help you to prepare for your recovery and any adjustments that you may need to make to your lifestyle and daily routine.
- What are some good questions to ask your esophageal cancer specialist?
A cancer diagnosis can feel overwhelming – and understandably so. But, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Your esophageal cancer specialist is an invaluable resource who can answer any questions that you may have. Consider talking with him or her regarding your diagnosis, treatment options and care.
- What are some things you should know about chemotherapy for esophageal cancer?
When used to treat esophageal cancer, chemotherapy can sometimes cause dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing. It can also cause other side effects, such as loss of appetite, changes in taste and sores or infections in the mouth. Prepare for chemo by learning about the side effects and tips for managing them.
- When should I see an esophageal cancer specialist?
You should see your physician if you notice symptoms associated with esophageal cancer, such as difficulties swallowing, heartburn pain or persistent coughing, hoarseness or hiccups. Your physician will be able to examine you and determine whether you should see an esophageal cancer specialist for further diagnostic testing.
- What are the risks of esophageal cancer surgery?
An esophagectomy is a major procedure and, like any surgery, comes with potential risks and side effects. Aside from general risks associated with surgery and anesthesia, some more specific risks of esophageal cancer surgery can include vocal changes, digestive issues, gastroesophageal reflux or a stricture, blockage or leak at the point where the esophagus is attached to the stomach.
- How do you find the best esophageal cancer treatment center for you?
When choosing an esophageal cancer treatment center, it’s best to look for a high-volume cancer center like Moffitt with experienced physicians, state-of-the-art technology and innovative treatment options. Moffitt is a National Cancer Center-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center known not only for its multispecialty treatment teams but also its world-class research and clinical trials program.
- What should I do to prepare for esophageal cancer surgery?
If you are going to be having surgery to treat your esophageal cancer surgery, you can help offset some of the anxiety you might feel by preparing yourself. Unsure where to start? Here are five ways you can prepare for esophageal cancer surgery.
- Are there any activities to avoid after having esophageal cancer surgery?
When it comes to esophageal cancer surgery, there is more to recovery than the physical healing that is typical following any major surgical procedure. Esophageal cancer surgery also impacts eating and digestion. To help facilitate your recovery, some activities to avoid following your esophageal cancer surgery include consuming foods and drinks that cause discomfort, using tobacco and laying down after eating.
- What environmental factors contribute to your risk of esophageal cancer?
While the specific cause of any type of cancer is unknown, there are several environmental factors that are believed to increase risk of developing esophageal cancer, such as tobacco smoke, asbestos, certain mineral spirits, toluene and synthetic adhesives, among others. Prolonged exposure to these factors may cause chronic irritation of the esophagus that could lead to the development of cancerous tumors over time.
- What are some ways to prepare for esophageal cancer treatment?
Esophageal cancer treatment varies from person to person, but most often involves some form of surgery. Your treatment team will help you understand what to expect. Getting yourself ready for treatment entails both physical and emotional preparations – here are six ways to prepare for your treatment.
- How do you know if you have esophageal cancer?
You should first discuss any symptoms or concerns with your physician, who will be able to tell you if what you are experiencing could be cancer, indicating that further testing is needed. In order to know if you have esophageal cancer, diagnostic testing such as imaging scans or endoscopy will need to be performed.
- Can GERD lead to esophageal cancer?
GERD is more likely to cause other, less serious conditions than it is to cause cancer. However, if you have this condition, it’s good to understand how GERD can increase risk for esophageal cancer and what signs to look for.
- Can vaping cause esophageal cancer?
Vaping, or the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), was introduced in the mid-2000s, and scientists are still researching the possible effects of this practice. While there's no conclusive evidence that vaping causes esophageal cancer, some studies have found a link between the two.
If you have been diagnosed with esophageal cancer and would like to get more information about the treatments that can give you the best chance at achieving a favorable outcome and an improved quality of life, schedule a consultation at Moffitt by calling 1-888-663-3488 or fill out a new patient registration form online. We see patients with and without referrals.