Radiation involves using high-energy x-rays to destroy cancer cells. This treatment often is combined with chemotherapy to reduce dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) in patients with advanced or metastatic esophageal cancer. It also may be used to shrink the tumor before surgery (neoadjuvant therapy) or after surgery to destroy remaining cancer cells (adjuvant therapy).

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Radiation therapy is performed in a hospital or outpatient center. Each treatment lasts a few minutes and treatment is usually given 5 days per week, for 6 weeks. Side effects include the following:

  • Dental cavities
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dry, sore mouth and throat
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Reddening of the skin
  • Swelling of the mouth and gums

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