University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center Uses Powerful Chemotherapy to Fight Esophageal Cancer Cells

Typically given intravenously (through a vein), chemotherapy uses powerful drugs to kill cancer cells. Each treatment period usually is followed by a rest period. Chemotherapy may be offered at a doctor’s office, in a clinic, at home or in the hospital.

While chemotherapy alone rarely cures esophageal cancer, it is often used in conjunction with radiation therapy or surgery to shrink the tumor, making it easier to surgically remove it from the body. Chemotherapy may also be used as a palliative care measure to relieve symptoms in patients with advanced stage esophageal cancer. In combination with surgery, chemoradiation can help patients live longer than those who were treated with surgery alone.

Chemotherapy Side Effects

Side effects from chemotherapy depend mostly on the type of drugs given and dosage amount. Some of the more common side effects are:

  • Fatigue
  • Bruise or bleed easily
  • Increased risk for infection
  • Hair loss
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Mouth and lip sores
  • Skin rash
  • Joint pain
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
  • Swollen feet or legs
  • Hearing problems

Patients should discuss any discomfort or bothersome side effects with their doctor or nurse, who may be able to help by providing supportive medications or other treatments.

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