Are you having back pain with any of the following?

  • Severe pain, weakness or tingling in your leg(s).
  • Difficulty stopping urination or loss of control of bladder or bowels.
  • Unexplained fever, nausea or vomiting.
  • A history of cancer or unexplained weight loss.

We understand that you are experiencing one or more of the health issues that might be impacting your back pain.

We recommend that you discuss these health issues with your doctor before proceeding with this program.

Once you are cleared by your doctor to do this program, we hope it helps you find relief from your back pain.

Cancer Care

Fremont and San Leandro Medical Centers

Overview

The 2 main types of esophageal cancer are squamous cell and adenocarcinoma. The most common is adenocarcinoma.

Standard treatment options include:

  • Surgery
  • Endoscopic treatments
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy

We know a cancer diagnosis is scary. We’re here to provide you with the best care available. We’ll talk about your treatment options and develop a plan that’s right for you.

Additional References:

Surgery

Surgery may be the first treatment if you have early stage esophageal cancer. If it’s more advanced, you might first have chemotherapy and radiation to shrink the tumor. 

During surgery, we remove part or most of the esophagus (esophagectomy), including: 

  • The portion of the esophagus that contains cancer.
  • Lymph nodes near the esophagus.
  • Possibly part of the stomach.

We create a new esophagus, usually from the stomach.

It takes time to recover from this surgery. You’ll remain in the hospital for at least one week. During your hospital stay, we watch you closely for side effects, some of which can be serious. They include:

  • Infection
  • Lung complications, such as pneumonia
  • Leakage of food where the remaining esophagus and stomach reattach

If you develop any side effects, you may need to remain in the hospital for more treatment.

Endoscopic Treatments

Some esophageal cancer treatments are done using a thin, flexible video camera (endoscope) used to diagnose your cancer. 

We may use this type of treatment to:

  • Manage cancer in very early stages.
  • Control symptoms caused by advanced esophageal cancer.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation, such as X-rays, to kill cancer cells. The most common type delivers radiation from a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy). 

In some cases, radioactive material is placed inside your body to deliver radiation close to the cancer (brachytherapy). 

Radiation is typically used in combination with chemotherapy before or after surgery. It may also be used to relieve symptoms, such as pain or trouble swallowing, from advanced esophageal cancer.

Radiation Therapy Side Effects

Side effects of radiation therapy are often associated with external-beam radiation. Possible side effects include:

  • Hair loss
  • Skin changes, such as redness and dryness
  • Sore throat, dry mouth, and sores in the mouth and throat
  • Painful swallowing
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue

Side effects are often worse when chemotherapy is given at the same time. They usually go away after radiation therapy ends. 

Permanent side effects are rare but can include lung damage and a narrowing (stricture) in the esophagus, which may need treatment.

Let us know if you develop side effects. We can help manage them so they don’t interfere with your quality of life.

Additional References:

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It’s usually given through intravenous (IV) infusion or as pills, depending on the stage of your cancer.

Typically, chemotherapy circulates throughout your entire body (systemic). It can destroy cancer cells that travel outside the esophagus.

Chemotherapy is given alone or along with radiation therapy. It may be used:

  • Before surgery, to make the tumor easier to remove.
  • After surgery, to kill any remaining cancer cells in the body.
  • To relieve symptoms, such as pain and trouble swallowing.

It might also be given with targeted therapy to treat certain esophageal cancers.

Chemotherapy Side Effects

Chemotherapy can cause side effects. The severity depends on the type and dose of the drug and the length of time it’s given. You may experience one or more of the following common side effects of chemotherapy:

  • Hair loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mouth sores
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Low blood cell counts

Low blood cell counts are a special concern because without enough healthy blood cells, you’re at higher risk for infections, bleeding, and severe fatigue. If this is an issue, we may give you:

  • Drugs to boost your blood counts
  • Antibiotics to treat and prevent infections
  • Transfusions of red blood cells and platelets

Let us know if you develop side effects. We have effective methods to prevent and manage these side effects. They usually go away when treatment ends.

Additional References:

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy uses drugs that attack specific parts of the cancer cell that help it survive and grow.

In a small number of cases, cancer starts at the point where the esophagus joins the stomach (gastroesophageal, or GE, junction). Sometimes, GE junction tumors make too much of a protein called HER2. The HER2 protein is found in high numbers on the surface of these cancer cells and helps the tumor survive and grow.

A drug that targets HER2 turns off the signal that tells the cancer to grow. If your GE junction cancer tests positive for HER2, we’ll talk together about this treatment option.

Side effects

Because targeted drugs attack cancer cells, there’s less damage to healthy cells. Side effects include: 

  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Low blood cell counts

We’ll watch you closely for side effects. Let us know as soon as you notice symptoms.

Other Treatments

If the tumor has made it difficult or impossible to eat, you may:

  • Receive nutrients through an intravenous (IV) line or feeding tube until you’re able to eat on your own.
  • Have a procedure to open the esophagus instead. For example, we may place a mesh tube (stent) into the narrowed or blocked esophagus to keep it open and allow you to swallow.

Clinical Trials

We’re always looking for new and better ways to treat esophageal cancer. Clinical trials are research studies that test new treatments and procedures. We can talk about available clinical trials that may be right for you.

Additional References:

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