What Should I Expect After Esophageal Cancer Surgery?

While the thought of undergoing esophageal cancer surgery is more than likely nerve-wracking, you are also likely to have questions about what your life will be like following surgery, as well. Knowing what to expect following your procedure can not only help you feel more relaxed going into your surgery, but also help you better prepare for any necessary lifestyle adjustments that will have to be made.

What are the physical effects of esophageal cancer surgery?

Each patient’s postoperative experience will vary depending on factors such as the specific procedure that was performed as well as the patient’s overall health, so your physician is the person who can best answer questions about what you, specifically, can expect. Most patients can expect to be hospitalized for several days following surgery. Additionally, you may experience:

  • Pain – As with any surgery, a certain amount of pain is to be expected. For most patients, pain can be effectively managed with medication.
  • Trouble swallowing –Trouble swallowing can be a side effect of esophageal cancer surgery if the patient’s esophagus becomes narrower.
  • Different nutritional needs – Patients who have the top portion of their stomachs removed during surgery may find themselves feeling fuller faster. This can potentially lead to poor nutrition, though dietary supplements can help to ensure patients get proper nutrition.
  • Heartburn – Since the sphincter that acts as a lid on the stomach is sometimes removed during esophageal cancer surgery, patients may experience heartburn. Some find that sleeping at an angle can help let gravity combat this naturally.
  • Fatigue – Fatigue is common among individuals who have had esophageal cancer surgery because the body needs extra rest to recover from surgery.

Supportive care after esophageal cancer surgery

Following esophageal cancer surgery and as you continue to undergo cancer treatment, the importance of a reliable support system can’t be overstated. When you receive cancer treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center, you’ll have the opportunity to work with a wide range of supportive care professionals to help you cope with the mental challenges of undergoing esophageal cancer treatment. From dietitians and pain management specialists to counselors and social workers, these professionals will help to ensure all of your needs are being met throughout the duration of your treatment.  

If you have been diagnosed with esophageal cancer and would like to learn about the treatment options that are available to you at Moffitt, call 1-888-663-3488 or fill out a new patient registration form online. We see patients with and without referrals.