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Esophageal Cancer

Oesophageal Cancer

08/03/2009

Question:

My mum aged 82 has just been diagnosed with oesophageal cancer ( by Xray CT with contrast). She has been having progressive difficulty swallowing for the last 12 months.She had a bleeding ulcer which healed approx 5 years ago. She is a non smoker/ drinker all of her life.She has type 2 diabetes and congestive heart failure and is not a candidate for surgery/chemo/radiotherapy. Can you give me an idea of life expectancy please? Thanks.

Answer:

Usually CT is not enough to diagnose esophageal cancer. Many patients could have difficulty swallowing but not due to cancer. For esophageal cancer, some patients who could not tolerate treatment like surgery or radiation might tolerate local therapy done through endoscopy, like laser/burning technique.

If no treatment is given, and cancer has not spread to other organs, the major problem will be progressive difficulty swallowing to almost obstruction of the lumen. This problem could be solved by having a feeding tube. Average survival is around 1 year for these cases; if cancer spread outside the esophagus is found, then survival is a few months.

For more information:

Go to the Esophageal Cancer health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Malek  Safa, MD Malek Safa, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati