The incidence of esophageal cancer is not very high in North America.
However, esophageal cancer has one of the highest mortality rates of all kinds of cancer because the disease is usually only detected after it has reached Stage 3. The treatment for esophageal cancer depends on the stage of cancer and the extent of its spread. Some of the treatment modalities that are used in the treatment of esophageal cancer include:
Surgery is primarily used if the cancer is detected early. When esophageal cancer is detected during Stage 0 or Stage 1, the cancerous cells can be successfully removed through surgery. However, surgery, even when successful, can result in other long term problems for survivors.
Chemotherapy is the most widely used form of treatment for esophageal cancer. This is because esophageal cancer is usually only diagnosed when the patient is already in Stage 3 of the cancer. By Stage 3, the cancer is too widespread to leave surgery as a viable option. Thus, chemotherapy in conjunction with radiation therapy remains the most effective options at this stage.
However, chemotherapy for esophageal cancer also comes with its own set of side effects and the process is slow, involving numerous sessions of chemotherapy followed up by radiation therapy to shrink the cancerous cells. In addition, you will be put on medication to address the side effects of chemotherapy for esophageal cancer. Some of the possible side effects include:
Neoadjuvant chemotherapy for esophageal cancer is a technique that is rapidly gaining in popularity in the treatment of this added disease.
Neoadjuvant chemotherapy increases the chances of successfully combatting the spread of the disease and also improves quality of life by ensuring a shorter treatment period. In this method of treatment for esophageal cancer, a combination for chemotherapy and radiation therapy is used to shrink the cancerous cells. Next, surgery is performed to physically excise the cells from the body.
Although a relatively new technique, studies show that this is one of the most effective methods of treating cancer of the esophagus. However, a complete cure is still not on the horizon and the mortality rates remain abysmally high for patients who have contracted esophageal cancer.