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What should we expect?

Posts: 14
Joined: Feb 2012

We found out about a month ago that my grandfather has an aggressive form of esophagus cancer. My grandparents have decided that the best route for them would be surgery to remove his esophagus. He is scheduled to have his surgery on the 20th of this month and I really just want to know what we should expect. I am absolutely terrified and Any feedback will be greatly appreciated!

Ginny_B's picture
Posts: 543
Joined: Sep 2011

Sorry you had to find your way to this site as many of us have done before you. This is a wonderful place to find out lots of firsthand information. My mom didn't have surgery (her esophageal cancer was inoperable), but there are lots of folks here who have. I'm sure you'll get a lot of information.

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Posts: 14
Joined: Feb 2012

The only details that I have are: He went to the doctor because he was getting chocked up really bad every time he ate. The doctor diagnosed him with Barrett's esophugas and the doctor cleared his esophugas (removed all of the scar tissue from having excessive acid indigestion) and he removed a sample to test for cancer and it came back positive. The doctor said that he caught it at an extremely early stage and he wants my grandpa to have the surgery ASAP to prevent it from spreading to his lymph nodes. The actual name of the cancer he has is Adeno carcinoma. I'll have to get the rest of the details from my grandmother tomorrow. But I want you to know that I am so happy to see so many survivors and thank you for the response.

birdiequeen's picture
Posts: 329
Joined: Mar 2011

Welcome Jessi1990,

Some people, when it is caught very early, do go straight to surgery. There has been ONE study that shows slightly higher survival if even early stage EC patients have chemo and radiation before surgery. But what I have read and found on line indicates that surgery alone is the recommended standard of care for stage 1 EC. There are not many people that are caught at stage 1, so he is already ahead of the cancer if that is the case. The surgery is not easy but it is doable. But, if you have any input, do not have him rush to surgery before all the staging is complete!

There are three types of surgeries but they all entail removing the esophagus and "pulling" up the stomach to function as the esophagus.

My husband was staged as stage 1 and had surgery one month from dx. after going through all the staging process. His post op path confirmed his stage with no lymph nodes involved.

I want you to know there are survivors but it is a very bumpy road for everyone who has traveled the EC road.

BobHaze's picture
Posts: 162
Joined: Sep 2011

Me too - I was Stage 1 and went straight to surgery after staging (CT, EUS). The thinking at Mass General Hospital seems to have been that if there are nodes or distant organs involved, there's nothing to treat, so let's get 'er outta there! They took half of my esophagus and about 1/3 of my stomach, and now I'm doing well.

Post surgery recovery can be uncomfortable and bumpy, and there are issues after that although the most persistent for me has been just getting to know my "new" digestive system and learning what works and what doesn't diet-wise. But I'll take that over cancer any day!!!

Good luck, and don't worry too much.

dx 8/3/11
MIE 9/23/11

Posts: 14
Joined: Feb 2012

I am glad to hear that there are people out there who have made it through this and the surgery. I was able to talk a little to my grandparents today and I found out a few more details. My grandpa is having the surgery where the surgeon will cut about a three inch slice in the middle of his chest and another incision on his side. He has already had a P.E.T. scan that showed the cancer is not in his lymph nodes. The only conditions he currently has is C.O.P.D. otherwise he's healthy. He is a strong, hard headed, 58 year old man. I feel like he can most definitely make it through this but I am still worried about it.

Bob, thank you for your input! Would you mind sharing more? Like what can we expect after the surgery and when he comes home? What changes did you have to make in your diet after the surgery? I have done lots of research but I rather hear it from someone who has experienced it first hand.

Posts: 14
Joined: Feb 2012

Thank you to everyone who has shared their stories with me.

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