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Surgery for Oesophagus (food pipe) cancer

How is oesophagus surgery done?

Surgery is done on the oesophagus if a tumour is present and it may be cancerous. Dr. Noorbhai will work in conjunction with the rest of your oncology team. Depending on how far the cancer has spread you may have surgery in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiation. 

You may have one of the following surgeries:

  • An oesophagectomy – this surgery is used to treat early stages of oesophagus cancer. During surgery an incision will be made in the stomach, chest or neck depending on the location of the tumour, a section of the oesophagus is removed as well as the nearby lymph nodes. The remaining part of the oesophagus is then connected to the stomach.
  • An endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) – using an endoscope through the throat, the tumour is cut from the oesophagus and remaining part of the oesophagus is reconnected to the stomach.
  • Stents – for more advanced stages of oesophageal cancer a hollow tubular stent may be used to ease swallowing by keeping the oesophagus open.

Why would this surgery be done?

An oesophagus surgery is done to remove a cancerous tumour from the oesophagus. Which type of surgery will depend on the stage of cancer you have been diagnosed with. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, chemotherapy and radiation may be advised in combination with surgery, and therefore a plan should be discussed with your oncologist and Dr Noorbhai. This surgery may also be done for palliative reasons as a way of reducing pain and suffering due to the symptoms of cancer.

How long will I be in hospital?

Most patients are able to go home after 14 days of observation in the hospital. How soon you will be discharged from hospital depends on whether you are able to drink liquids when waking up, how much pain you have and whether you have someone to look after you at home.

What will happen after surgery?

Following this surgery, a part of your stomach may have to be removed meaning your stomach is smaller and requires a change in eating habits. You may experience pain and fatigue after surgery; however, Dr Noorbhai will try make you as comfortable as possible. You will be monitored in hospital for the next two weeks.

How soon after the surgery can I resume normal activities?

You will be able to resume normal after surgery within the next 6 weeks. 

What are the potential risks and complications of oesophagus cancer surgery?

The risk of complications during open surgery include:

  • Infection of the wound or internal infection.
  • Bleeding.
  • Pain.
  • Breathing problems.
  • Leak between the oesophagus and stomach.
  • Hoarse voice.
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots.
  • Risks from general anaesthetic.
endoscopic and-laparoscopic surgery
endoscopic and-laparoscopic procedures

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