Esophageal Cancer (cont.)
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Radiation therapy is an option for people with any stage of esophageal cancer. The treatment affects cells only in the area being treated, such as the throat and chest area.
Radiation therapy may be given before, after, or instead of surgery. Chemotherapy is usually given along with radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy for esophageal cancer may be given to...
Doctors use two types of radiation therapy to treat esophageal cancer. Some people receive both types:
The side effects of radiation therapy depend mainly on the type of radiation therapy, how much radiation is given, and the part of your body that is treated.
External radiation therapy aimed at the chest may cause a sore throat, cough, or shortness of breath. You may feel a lump in your throat or burning in your chest or throat when you swallow. After several weeks of treatment, it may be painful to swallow. Your health care team can suggest ways to manage these problems. The problems usually go away when treatment ends.
External radiation therapy can harm the skin. It's common for the skin in the chest area to become red and dry and to get darker. Sometimes the skin may feel tender or itchy. Check with your doctor before using lotion or cream on your chest. After treatment is over, the skin will heal.
You're likely to become tired during external radiation therapy, especially in the later weeks of treatment. Although getting enough rest is important, most people say they feel better when they exercise every day. Try to go for a short walk, do gentle stretches, or do yoga.
Years after either type of radiation therapy, the esophagus may become narrow. If this happens, it may feel like food is getting stuck in your chest. Usually, a gastroenterologist can treat this problem.
Questions you may want to ask your doctor about radiation therapy
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