Chemotherapy for Esophageal Cancer

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to treat cancer. It usually works by keeping cancer cells from growing or reproducing. There are many different chemotherapy drugs, and they fight cancer in different ways. Your esophageal cancer team will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan.

The type of chemotherapy you have and when you have it depends on the type of esophageal cancer you have, if it has spread and other factors. You might have chemotherapy:

  • Before surgery, to help shrink the tumor
  • After surgery, to kill remaining cancer cells
  • With radiation treatment, to kill more cancer cells than radiation alone

Some people have chemotherapy to help with symptoms of advanced esophageal cancer that cannot be cured. For example, chemotherapy can help relieve painful swallowing.

The side effects of chemotherapy depend on the drugs you are given and other factors. Your esophageal cancer team can talk with you about possible side effects and help you find ways to cope with them.