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NCCN Guidelines for Patients


Esophageal Cancer, Version 1.2016

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to treat

cancer. The rays damage DNA. This either kills the

cancer cells or stops new cancer cells from being

made. For esophageal cancer, radiation therapy is

often given with chemotherapy. Chemotherapy may

improve how well radiation works. This combined

treatment is called chemoradiation.









herapy) is the

method used to treat esophageal cancer. This method

delivers radiation from outside your body using a

large machine.

See Figure 12

. The radiation passes

through your skin and other tissue to reach the tumor.

Simulation session

To receive radiation therapy, you first must have

a planning (simulation) session. If some of your

stomach will be treated with radiation, do not eat a

heavy meal 3 hours beforehand. A 3D image of the

tumor will be made with a CT scan. Contrast may be

used to enhance images. Images are taken after your

body is moved into the position needed for treatment.

It is advised that you lie on your back and be kept

from moving with an immobilization device. For some

people, 4D-CT planning and other methods to control

movement may be used.

Using the scans, your treatment team will plan the

best radiation dose, number and shape of radiation

beams, and number of treatment sessions. Beams

are shaped with computer software and hardware

added to the radiation machine. Radiation beams are

aimed at the tumor with help from ink marks on the

skin or marker seeds in the tumor.

Receiving radiation

If some of your stomach will be treated with radiation,

do not eat a heavy meal 3 hours before treatment.

During treatment, you will lie on a table in the same

position as done for simulation. Devices may be used

to keep you from moving so that the radiation targets

the tumor.

Figure 12.

External beam

radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is often delivered

from a large machine. The rays

pass through skin and travel

to the tumor. Healthy tissue is

protected by using modern types of



Overview of cancer treatments Radiation therapy