Esophageal cancer forms in the esophagus, or the food pipe, a muscular tube that allows food to move from our mouths to the stomach.
There are two types of esophageal cancer:
Esophageal cancer is categorized into different stages, depending on the extent or spread of the cancer. In stage 4 esophageal cancer, the cancer would have spread to other organs, like the liver, kidneys, and so on. Stage 4 esophageal cancer is not considered curable, and only palliative treatment (surgery and alternate treatment options to ease the symptoms) is given at this stage. In all of the other stages of cancer, curative surgery and post and pre-operative chemotherapy and radiation is used to treat the cancer.
While there are minimal symptoms in the early stages of this cancer, by stage 4 one or all the listed symptoms would have manifested.
While most of the symptoms can also be caused by other diseases, it is prudent to visit a doctor and get tested. Early diagnosis is one of the best ways of ensuring complete reversal.
As mentioned earlier, stage 4 esophageal cancers cannot be cured.
Hence, cancer treatment options in this stage are aimed and alleviating symptoms. Palliative treatment options include the following.
Apart from palliative treatment, one of the best treatment options for stage 4 esophageal cancer is participation in clinical trials. Clinical trials are studies that are conducted to evaluate the efficacy of new treatments and drugs. While you can participate in clinical trials at any stage, you should discuss this with your doctor first to choose what is best for you.
The esophageal cancer prognosis mainly relies on the stage in which the cancer is and the patient’s age and overall health. Stage 4 esophageal cancer prognosis is considerably poor, because in this stage the cancer has spread to other organs of the body as well.
Survival rates also depend on how far the cancer has progressed. Stage 4 esophageal cancer survival rate is less than 5%. It is advisable that patients with stage 4 esophageal cancer obtain treatment at a medical center, where they can benefit from multi-modality treatment.