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What are the side effects of esophageal cancer treatment?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Esophageal cancer treatment often includes surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. All three of these come with their own set of side effects. Surgery for esophageal cancer might lead to the newly joined areas leaking food and fluids. Surgery will also result in short-term pain.

Radiation is used to kill cancer cells with beams of high energy. These beams burn tissues, much like the sun burns our skin. Radiation can result in weakness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and pain in the throat, chest, and stomach.

Chemotherapy treats esophageal cancer by killing cancer cells with drugs. These drugs damage other fast-growing cells in our body, including blood cells, hair cells, and cells lining the digestive system. Side effects of chemotherapy can include infections (due to decreased blood cells), loss of hair, and loss of weight due to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.