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TREATMENT

The main treatment used for esophageal cancer is esophagectomy, a surgical procedure for the removal of the tumor and the tissues close to it. After the operation, the esophagus is shortened and the stomach is pulled toward the thorax to connect it with the remaining healthy part of the esophagus. After this operation the patient can still eat normally.

Sometimes, if a big part of the esophagus has been removed, a plastic tube is inserted to reconnect esophagus and stomach.

The surgery may leave scars at the point where the stomach and the esophagus were reconnected and patient may face some difficulty because the tube to reconnect esophagus and stomach may shrink.

If the surgery cannot be done (because of the general state of the patient), the tumor can be destroyed using other methods such as:

  • Radiotherapy: Cancerous cells are destroyed by X-rays. It may be used alone or combined with chemotherapy as primary treatment, instead of surgery. Sometimes, radiotherapy is used prior to chemotherapy to reduce the size of a tumor. Even if the tumor cannot be destroyed entirely, radiotherapy helps to decrease the pain and the difficulties in swallowing due to the tumor.
  • Laser Therapy: A high-intensity light (laser) is used to destroy cancerous cells. This helps to reduce the size of the tumor, decrease the pain and the eliminate difficulties in swallowing due to tumor.
  • Photodynamic Therapy (PDT): A particular kind of laser therapy in which a drug is administered to the patient and it is absorbed by cancerous cells. The doctor, then, exposes the drug-absorbed cancer cells to a laser, which activates the drug promoting it to destroy the cells.

After this check-up, the cancer can be classified according to the T.N.M. international classification for malignant tumors: wherein "T" describes the size of the tumor and whether it has invaded nearby tissue, "N" describes regional lymph nodes that are involved, and "M" describes distant metastasis (spread of cancer from one body part to another). This classification is useful to determine the best treatment for the patient.

 
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