Oftentimes, cancer in the esophagus is not diagnosed until the later stages of the condition. This affects the survivability of esophageal cancer because the cancer has had time to spread to surrounding or far away tissue. When a tumor spreads, it is more difficult to treat.
Esophageal cancer does not usually cause symptoms until the cancer has spread to other tissue or until the tumor is big enough to cause pain when swallowing. It’s possible to surgically remove tumors in the third stage of esophageal cancer, but is not usually an option for stage four cancer. In fact, patients diagnosed with stage four esophageal cancer usually receive treatment to prolong life because a cure is rare.
The prognosis for patients who do receive treatment depends on the stage of the cancer and the patient’s overall health. Sometimes the treatment or the condition makes it difficult for patient’s to eat, so nutrition may be administered through a feeding tube.
It’s important to speak with your doctor about the side effects and risk of treatment before undergoing a diagnostic or therapeutic procedure.