Support for Esophageal Cancer
Doctors at NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center play an integral role in follow-up care for people with esophageal cancer.
After treatment, you need to see your doctor every three to six months for the first two or three years, then annually to ensure that the cancer has not returned. Our doctors may perform follow-up endoscopies and biopsy, removing and examining any suspicious tissue.
NYU Langone also offers a number of services to support you during and after your treatment.
Our physicians and swallowing therapists at Rusk Rehabilitation can evaluate how well you’re healing after treatment by observing how well you swallow liquid or food. They may do so by using a test referred to as a fiber-optic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing.
During this procedure, doctors place an endoscope, or thin, lighted tube with a tiny camera on its end, into your throat through your mouth or nose. After inserting the scope, therapists give you something to eat or drink while they observe your ability to swallow.
They can then make recommendations on what types of foods may be best for you to eat and what sitting positions might aid swallowing. They may also be able to recommend certain exercises to improve your ability to swallow.
One possible complication of esophageal cancer and its treatment is damage to the lungs, causing breathing difficulty, generalized weakness, and difficulty with walking and performing your normal daily activities.
Cancer can spread to the lungs, for instance, interfering with breathing. Or, if tumors in the esophagus prevent you from swallowing food, you might inhale food particles into your lungs, which can lead to lung infections. Sometimes, surgical incisions in the chest can damage the lungs.
After our Rusk Rehabilitation physicians evaluate you, they may prescribe pulmonary rehabilitation, which can include breathing techniques and secretion clearance, typically referred to as chest physical therapy.
To help address poor lung function, our specialists can also prescribe strength and exercise training focused on restoring strength, balance, and endurance. This training can help you to walk, perform activities of daily living, and be independent at home and in the community.
Our doctors encourage good nutrition in people who have been treated for esophageal cancer, who may have trouble swallowing and may be experiencing some discomfort. Registered oncology dietitians and nutritionists at Perlmutter Cancer Center can counsel you on how to eat to improve or maintain digestive health.
Managing Side Effects
To reduce side effects, your doctor may prescribe medications, integrative therapies, or both. NYU Langone’s Integrative Health Services include massage therapy, which can help to reduce stress, and acupuncture, which may offer relief from chemotherapy-related hot flashes and radiation-related fatigue.
Psychological and Social Support
Support groups and one-on-one counseling sessions with a psycho-oncologist, a healthcare provider trained to address the psychological needs of people with cancer, are available at the Perlmutter Cancer Center. Psychological support may help you cope with any depression or anxiety you might experience during or after treatment. Social workers are also available to help you address any financial matters that may arise during treatment.
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