NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Esophageal Cancer - page 53

NCCN Guidelines for Patients
: Esophageal Cancer
Version 1.2013
Part 5: Squamous cell carcinomas
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Chemotherapy and
radiation therapy given at
the same time
Difficult or
painful swallowing
side effect:
An unhealthy
or unpleasant physical
or emotional response to
Supportive care:
Treatment for symptoms
that are caused by cancer
or by cancer treatment
Read pages 28–38
for information on
cancer treatments.
5.5 Supportive care for carcinomas
The goal of supportive care is to prevent and relieve discomfort you may
have. Supportive care is given at any stage of cancer, but is often the main
type of care when the cancer is advanced. When used for advanced cancers,
supportive care is often called palliative care. It is used to relieve symptoms
from the cancer or treatments. Supportive care may also extend life, improve
your eating, and help you feel better overall. Relief of specific symptoms and
chemotherapy are described next.
Symptom control
Cancer or its treatment can cause unpleasant and sometimes harmful
symptoms. One of the most common symptoms of esophageal cancer is
dysphagia. Endoscopic treatments, stents, radiation therapy, and surgery
are used by doctors to widen areas that have narrowed. Bleeding is another
symptom, although not as common as dysphagia. Surgery, radiation therapy,
and endoscopic treatments can help stop the bleeding. You may have pain or
nausea with or without vomiting. Drugs and sometimes surgery are used to
control these symptoms. You may have other symptoms that aren’t listed here.
If you have a new or worse symptom, tell your treatment team. There may be
ways to help you feel better.
Chemotherapy is often used for supportive care of stage IV disease. It is also
used for locally advanced cancers that can’t be treated with either surgery or
radiation. Since chemotherapy can cause severe side effects, it is only given if
your health hasn’t seriously limited your activities.
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