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Esophageal Cancer

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What were the symptoms and signs you experienced with esophageal cancer? Submit Your Comment

Comment from: Worried grandaughter, 65-74 Male (Caregiver) Published: September 19

My grandfather has recently been diagnosed with esophageal cancer, and it is 33 cm large. Apparently it has not spread. They think this has been growing for years. Every week or 2 he has to have a blood transfusion because he is losing too much blood and iron with his tumor. He had a feeding tube inserted a week ago he seems to have gone downhill a lot since having this inserted. He had been vomiting blood. He has no energy, struggling to eat and is sleeping a lot. Getting worried over here.

Comment from: Banu, 55-64 Male (Caregiver) Published: December 30

My dad was suffering from frequent dry cough and recently he started noticing difficulty in swallowing. He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer on December 21st with the tumor size around 6 cm, and cancer has not spread to any other parts. He is going for surgery soon.

Comment from: ElizabethB., 65-74 Male (Caregiver) Published: March 02

My dear friend is the one with esophageal cancer at this point he has been on treatment for about 7 months. The chemotherapy ceased working at about 5 months and course of treatment with radiation was done and a new chemotherapy cocktail is being given now. The recent endoscopy showed the throat was totally closed on top by the tumor, the stent in the esophagus itself is now fully infiltrated by the tumor and the tumor is occupying about a 1/3 of the stomach. There has been no eating or drinking since treatment, started only a feeding tube that goes directly into the stomach on the side. A pump feeds him during his sleeping hours for the most part. The saliva was the most difficult part of the symptoms in the beginning. Now he has enough pain to need the morphine and is feeling so constipated that any awake time he has is spent in the moaning over gastric pressure and pain, and of course the pain medicines make him dizzy and unstable to even walk a few steps, and he is incoherent a lot. The wife's answer to these issues is to plan to take him to Seattle (hours away) in hopes of better treatment than the local place can give her husband. The cancer grows no matter what, it is growing slowly.

Comment from: bgailt, 45-54 Male (Caregiver) Published: March 24

My husband was diagnosed with esophageal cancer on February 6th, 2015. His symptoms were light. He had really bad night sweats and a sinus infection 2 weeks before his diagnosis. They did a sonogram and saw 2 spots on his lung and 3 spots on his liver. We went for a CT scan and that's when we got the horrible news. Stage 4 esophageal cancer. He was cleaning out for a colonoscopy and an endoscopy. He lost all his energy, passed out in the floor and ended up in the emergency room. We were in CCU for a week and he got 6 pints of blood and 3 bags of plasma. The last day we were there they did a biopsy. The cancer was rapidly growing. We only got to go to the oncologist twice and he passed away on March 5th, 2015. I am writing this to tell you that if you have any problems with acid reflux have the necessary test done often! We didn't get the chance to fight it.

Comment from: Very Lucky!, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: September 18

I first noticed hiccups and belching after eating. Eventually, I had trouble swallowing. An upper endoscopy revealed that I had a tumor between my esophagus and stomach, and a biopsy confirmed it was cancer. My doctors felt it was best to remove the tumor and half of my stomach, then stretch the remaining half stomach up to the remnant of the esophagus and attach them. A month after surgery, I had 6 weeks of chemo and radiation. I am grateful to say that I have been cancer-free for three and a half years. I am glad I had the tests run at the early onset of symptoms instead of assuming it was just gas or something else!

Comment from: Dale, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: June 12

I am 70 years old. In October 2017 the Veterans Affairs hospital was going to do a biopsy. At the last minute they told me that they could not do it because if I had what they thought I had, they could not fix me. So they sent me across the street to another hospital. On April 5, 2018 I was operated on for esophageal cancer. After surgery the doctor said the surgery went fine but the stomach would not reach the esophagus. So I asked how much cancer I had and he said only 1 cm but to be safe they cut 8 inches of my esophagus. Now he says they can't figure how they will connect. He told me I was only level one of cancer. Now the doctor has told me I have to wait another 6 months and he is talking about connecting my colon to the esophagus. He didn't appear too sure about it. I wonder if anyone has ever heard of this type of surgery and if it works. Today is June 9 and I have not eaten anything or drunk anything since April 4, 2018.

Comment from: Rosalie cat, 55-64 Female (Caregiver) Published: March 10

My mother was having eating difficulties. First we were thinking that she had a gastric problem, but on the 26th of January we went to see a doctor. He sent us to the clinic to do a gastroscopy, where they also did a biopsy. The doctor sent her to the hospital on the 2nd of February. There she got one week of treatment and on the 9th of February she had the surgical intervention to remove the esophageal cancer. She stayed two weeks in the ICU and passed away on the 26th of February 2016.

Comment from: lin, 45-54 Male (Caregiver) Published: September 10

My husband aged 54 was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in December and passed away in March. When diagnosed he had a pain in his left side when he was lying down at night and nothing else. Then lymph nodes in his neck became enlarged. An endoscopy and scan showed the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes in his neck and in his chest. Chemo started immediately, a 21 day cycle, from 8.30 to 4.30 on day one and then a course of tablets, 12 in all, to take for the 21 days. After 3 courses a scan showed that although the chemo was shrinking the tumor the cancer itself was causing blood clots and one had gone to his lung. He then started injecting himself in the stomach every evening, which was a 6 month course, then just before his 4th cycle of chemo he developed another blood clot in his liver. The doctors just couldn't get on top of the clots and eventually one went to his heart and killed him suddenly. We were not aware that blood clots can be caused by cancer or chemo.

Comment from: angel, 55-64 (Patient) Published: October 21

I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and had surgery in 2008. I had acid reflux for years and took meds for it. I was just feeling terrible in my chest and stomach and knew something was wrong. I had an endoscopic exam and the Dr. called to tell me that he couldn't believe it but, it was cancer. I told him I could because I had been feeling so bad. I was very fortunate it was caught early, and I didn't need any treatments. I had an esophajectomy and a stomach pull up. It isn't an easy surgery but, it beats the alternative. It is a long recovery and 2 years later I still have some discomfort, cough, and diarrhea. I continue to be checked and I am thankful I pushed the Dr's telling them how bad I felt. You do need to listen to your body and be persistent. As I said I didn't have to have treatments they felt they got it all, and I was truly blessed with that as I didn't know how I would go through treatments being so weak. It is amazing what they can do.

Comment from: Sue B, 45-54 Male (Caregiver) Published: September 10

My husband was diagnosed with esophageal cancer on Sept. 1, 2005. He'd been having increasing trouble swallowing and has started losing weight. He went to see the doctor who sent him to a specialist to do a scope. As soon as he had the diagnosis, he was referred to a surgeon. The surgery was Sept. 29, 2005, and they removed the tumor and part of the esophagus. That December, he started chemo and radiation treatments. He had radiation for four weeks straight and four week-long rounds of chemo (first week of radiation, last week of radiation, one month later and one month after that). His pic line was removed on the final day of chemo (April 14, 2006). He goes for CT scans every six months now (in the first year it was every three months), and sees all three of his fabulous doctors to discuss the results. Three years later, he is still cancer-free, and we are more hopeful each time that the next time will also be clear. Not to scare anyone, but based on our research of this disease and our discussions with the doctors, we believe that with surgery alone, he wouldn't have survived the first year. He just turned 50 in January (2009), and we're now making long-term plans again. He's frequently tired, can't eat much at one time, and often suffers acid reflux at night. This is our "new normal," and we are happy to live with it because we still have each other and our family and are otherwise healthy. One strange side effect of all his treatments is that his immune system seems to be stronger than before. He used to catch every cold and flu bug the kids brought home; now he's seldom sick, and it's less severe when he is sick. These are small blessings for sure but blessings just the same.

Comment from: Dottie, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: November 19

I was perfectly healthy not overweight had just gone to my doctor to get the results of my physical exam. He said everything was great! Then I mentioned in passing that the only small problem I was having was swallowing unless I drank a lot of fluids. He ordered some Protonix and a swallow study. I went to for an endoscopy and they took a biopsy of a tumor that was blocking the food. It was the dreaded cancer. I'm seeing an oncologist who wants to do chemo and radiation but says no surgery since It spread to my lymph nodes and am at stage 3. I am so scared and it's happening so fast. I don't have any pain but because of all treatment and thoughts of suffering through them with really no hope of long recovery, I'm at my wits end. I don't understand how this could happen so suddenly.

Comment from: Carol, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: March 19

My husband was diagnosed with esophageal cancer last October. He is in hospice. He started vomiting blood the last time, he was home. No one knows the feeling of someone that you love is slowly dying.

Comment from: EMMY, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: August 11

I have had acid reflux for years. I thought I had it under control, one day I was sitting at home eating some scallops and rice when all of a sudden I couldn't swallow. The food wouldn't go down and it wouldn't come back up. I ran to the sink as I was losing my air. Then all of a sudden the food comes up. I was at home by myself at the time so that scared the crap out of me. I told my wife and she made me go to my doctor where they did a test. I couldn't swallow the pill they gave me until I drank three glasses of water. We knew there was a problem so we set up and endoscope. I was put to sleep and my doctor told me he could widen my esophagus and that it was a common thing. I agreed. When I woke up in the recovery room my doctor came in to see me. He told me he could not widen my esophagus. He told me that my stomach was raw so he did do a biopsy and to me call him in a couple of days. I called a few days later. The doctor told me that the results were not good and that they wanted to do a double take. He told me that the results I received usually indicate cancer. They wanted to be very aggressive in the first 30 days. I have had 30 radiation treatments and two types chemotherapy on. I recently had an X-ray and my doctors were very happy with the results. I do have a surgery coming up later this month. I am scared, but coming on to this site makes me feel better. I told a good friend at work what is going on and he is going to get tested.

Comment from: missy 8883, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: December 14

I was diagnose with esophageal cancer in 2004. I only had symptoms for two and a half weeks when I went to the doctor. One day, I felt like I had food stuck in my esophagus. They did a scope and found a tumor. I had surgery and they removed my esophagus and did a stomach pull-up. The surgeon was amazed that I got into a doctor as soon as I did. I have been cancer free for more than five years. The cancer was caught soon enough and had perforated the esophageal wall, so I did not have to get any chemotherapy or radiation. My cancer was caught in stage 1. The survival rate of such a cancer is very low, I'm told. I have CT scans for more than five years before my cancer was diagnosed and everything was always fine. Listen to your body. It can save your life.

Comment from: Mick, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: August 11

I began having problems keeping food down especially meat and bread, eventually anything. Over a period of 3 months whilst I was working away my weight loss was in the region of 25kg,I knew something drastically wrong, upon my return home to South Africa I collapsed on the 1st day and was rushed to hospital dehydrated and admitted, the following day a scope was carried out, the resulting prognosis was not good. T3 N1 and I was informed the tumor was too large to operate on. The course of treatment was decided upon by a dedicated team of doctors, they gave me intensive chemo for 3weeks followed by chemo and radiation for another 3 weeks in the hope of shrinking the tumor to enable them to operate, it worked and I was scheduled for surgery 6 weeks later. My Esophagus was taken out with stomach substitution I believe it's known as pull through. I was given follow up chemo 3 months later for; 1 week/3months, I used to call it my take away. This all took place 5 years and 9 months ago, my oncologist has told me he no longer needs to see me, and that I am cancer free, for which I am eternally grateful. The whole experience has humbled me and I can only say never give up miracles do happen.

REFERENCE:

American Cancer Society. "What Is Cancer of the Esophagus?" June 14, 2017. <https://www.cancer.org/cancer/esophagus-cancer/about/what-is-cancer-of-the-esophagus.html>.

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