Treatment for oesophageal cancer

Your treatment depends on several factors. These include what type of oesophageal cancer you have, how big it is and whether it has spread (the stage), and what the cancer cells look like under the microscope (grade). It also depends on your general health. 

A team of health professionals discuss the best treatment and care for you.

Preparing for treatment and life afterwards (prehabilitation)

There are things you can do to help you feel more in control of your physical and mental health when preparing for treatment. In the hospital, preparing for treatment is also called prehabilitation or prehab.

Treatment options for oesophageal cancer

The treatment you have for oesophageal cancer depends on the stage of your cancer. You might have one or more treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy, targeted cancer drugs or radiotherapy. 

Surgery for oesophageal cancer

Surgery is the most common treatment if your cancer hasn't spread. Surgeons remove all or part of your oesophagus.

Chemotherapy for oesophageal cancer

Chemotherapy uses anti cancer drugs to destroy cancer. You might have it before or after surgery for oesophageal cancer, or as your main treatment if your cancer is advanced.

Radiotherapy for oesophageal cancer

Radiotherapy uses high energy waves similar to x-rays to destroy oesophageal cancer cells. 

Chemoradiotherapy for oesophageal cancer

Chemotherapy combined with radiotherapy is called chemoradiotherapy. You might have it on its own as your main treatment, or before surgery.

Targeted and immunotherapy drugs for oesophageal cancer

There are different targeted and immunotherapy drugs for oesophageal cancer. These include trastuzumab and nivolumab.

Making swallowing easier when you have oesophageal cancer

Swallowing can be difficult for some people with cancer in the oeosphagus. There are treatments that can make swallowing easier.

Follow up appointments after oesophageal cancer treatment

After treatment you usually have follow up appointments to check how you are and see whether you have any problems or worries.

Last reviewed: 
25 Sep 2023
Next review due: 
25 Sep 2026