What to Consider When Choosing a Treatment for Esophageal Cancer

Researchers are studying new ways to treat esophageal cancer. People diagnosed with it now have more hope for survival than ever before.

The choices you have for treatment depend on these factors:

  • Type, size, and location of the tumor in your esophagus

  • Results of lab tests

  • Extent of the disease called the stage

  • Status of your health and your age

  • Your personal concerns and preferences

You may need a series of tests to help your doctor plan your treatment. You’ll also want to consider these other issues and talk with your doctor about them:

  • Your feelings about the side effects of each treatment

  • Anyone you know who has had cancer, which can affect your expectations of treatment

  • How likely it is that the treatment will cure your cancer. Some cancers can be cured, while others can’t.

The type of treatment you have depends on how far the cancer has spread. If cancer is confined to your esophagus or has spread only to nearby lymph nodes, you have early-stage local cancer. If the cancer has spread to other places in the body, it’s called metastasis or advanced esophageal cancer.

Many people want to learn all they can about their disease and treatment choices so that they can make confident decisions about their care. If you’re one of them, you’re likely to have many questions. For instance, most people with esophageal cancer want to know how they will function after treatment. And they want to know if they’ll have to change their normal activities. Your doctor is the best person to answer your questions.

Your doctor may recommend a specific treatment. Or he or she may offer more than one, giving you a choice of which one you’d like to follow. This can be a hard decision to make. There is often more than one right answer with different possible benefits and possible risks. It’s important to take the time you need to make the best decision for you.