Making decisions about treatment for advanced cancer

Read about making treatment decisions when you have advanced cancer.

Deciding about treatment can be difficult when you have advanced Oesophageal cancer.

Treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy can help to reduce symptoms and might make you feel better. But they also have side effects that can make you feel unwell for a while.

You need to understand

  • what treatment can do for you
  • how it might affect your quality of life
  • what side effects it has


Your doctor or specialist nurse can talk to you about the benefits and possible side effects. You can ask them questions. You might also find it helps to talk things over with a close relative, a friend or a counsellor at the hospital.

We're here for you if you or someone close to you has cancer. You can call our Cancer Research UK nurses on 0800 800 4040, 9am to 5pm.

Treatment choices

Your doctor might offer you a choice of treatments. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each treatment with them and ask how they can control any side effects. This helps you make the right decision for you.

You also need to think about the other factors involved in each treatment, such as

  • whether you need extra appointments
  • if you’ll need more tests
  • the distance you need to travel to and from hospital

You might have to make further choices as your situation changes. It helps to find out as much as possible each time.

You can stop a treatment whenever you want to if you find it too much to cope with.

If you decide not to have treatment

You can have medicines to help control symptoms such as sickness or pain. Your doctor or nurse can let you know what could help you. You can also ask them to refer you to a local symptom control team to give you support at home.

Find out about support at home for you and your family

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