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.

Decisions about your treatment

A team of health professionals decides what treatment you need. This depends on factors such as your cancer stage and type. 


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


Chemotherapy uses anti cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. The drugs circulate throughout the body in the bloodstream.


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


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

Treatment for advanced cancer

Advanced oesophageal cancer means your cancer has spread to other parts of your body. Treatment includes chemotherapy, targeted cancer drugs and radiotherapy. 

Other treatments

Your doctor may recommend treatment with laser, radio waves or light sensitising drugs for very early cancer.

Follow up appointments

After treatment, you have regular check ups and tests at the hospital. The doctors check how you are and see whether you have any problems or worries.

Research into oesophageal cancer

Researchers are looking at the diagnosis, early detection and treatment of oesophageal cancer. 

Last reviewed: 
25 Sep 2019
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