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Esophageal Cancer - Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which specialist should I consult if I have swallowing difficulty?

You should consult a general surgeon for further investigations regarding the cause.

2. Once esophageal cancer is diagnosed, which doctors will be involved in the treatment?

Treatment involves a multidisciplinary team such as gastroenterologist, surgical oncologist and radiation oncologist.

3.Why does one get esophageal cancer?

The exact cause is not known. The DNA in the cells of the esophagus undergo changes or mutations which cause these cells to multiply in an uncontrolled manner and become a tumor mass. The risk of cancer development is enhanced if one were to have a genetic predisposition for these mutations and increased furthermore if the risk factors for esophageal cancer coexist.
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4. How is esophageal cancer staged?

Staging is done as per the TNM system, T stands for tumor depth, N for node and M for metastases. There are 5 stages namely Stages I, IIA, IIB, III and IV.

Stage I is tumor confined within esophagus and stage IV represents tumors that have metastasized.

5. How many sessions of radiation is necessary for esophageal cancer?

Generally 25-30 sessions or fractions of radiation treatment are necessary. Each session lasts for approximately 15 minutes.

6. How long do I need to stay in hospital following surgery?

The duration may vary but it could range between 5 to 10 days.

7. What is immunotherapy for esophageal cancer?

Immunotherapy involves using drugs to activate the body’s immune system to fight against the tumor cells.

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