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No surgery for my dad

Posts: 1
Joined: May 2013


We have just learned my dad has an Esophageal cancer( T3 NI, m0) and the doctor said due to his age(85years old) he can not do surgery on him, so my questions is is chemo or radiation can get rid of the cancer cells and the person be cancer free? Thank for helping me on this difficult time.

Posts: 761
Joined: Apr 2012

Sorry to hear about your father.  If your father has other health issues I can understand the doctor's concerns about the surgery.  If this is not the case, this surgery is hard on anyone and the older we get the harder it is.  My husband is 76 and has been fighting cancer for 3 years.  Starting with laryngeal cancer for which he is clear but then a secondary at the cervical of his esophagus.  He underwent another 35 radiation and 7 chemo treatments for it.  At that time it was very small and there was no spread.  3 months later after and PET/CT and an endoscope he was NED.  Then 4 months later after a PET/CT scan and no problems other than swallowing, we found out that the cancer had reoccurred at the cervical of his esophagus (much larger this time) and had spread to his right lung.  Surgery and radiation were not options only chemo.  We were told upfront that the chemo wouldn't cure only prolong and could possibly hasten his time.  He elected no more treatments, he wanted quality or quantity. 

After reading of all the side effects and outcomes of others, I agreed with my husband, didn't want to but it is his choice and our 4 sons haven't said anything about his choice or tried to talk him out of it.  Today it has been 5 months since we found out and he is doing what he wants when he wants.  Yes he has pain but takes medication and it controls his pain (he doesn't like to take it and doesn't take it as often as he needs) and he still works in the yard but takes lots of rest.  He has a feeding tube that he relies on.  Does swallow some and can but his esophagus is very narrow from all the radiation he has undergone. 

Radiation and chemo is very hard on the body and mind and while not all have the side effects that come with treatment, many more do, some outcomes are good and some are not.  What does your father want to do.  It is his choice and his alone.  Have you gotten a second opinion?  If it was my father at 85 I wouldn't push the surgery and depending on his overall general health, I don't know what I would want him to do as far as radiation and chemo.   My Aunt was diagnosed with esophageal cancer at 70.  She had radiation and chemo and then surgery.  But it kept coming back and then spreading.  She fought a good battle for 3 years and then finally said enough is enough.  Many rounds of chemo and more radiation.  She had a feeding tube that went directly into her intestines and could barely eat any foods after the surgery and depended on the feeding tube and even that had an infection that caused then to remove it and then reinsert one.

Wishing the best to you and your family -- Sharon

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