Understanding Esophageal Cancer: Radiation Therapy

Radiation treatment (usually just called radiation) uses high energy rays (such as X-rays). There are 2 purposes:

  • To destroy cancer cells or
  • To shrink tumors.

External radiation is the type of radiation most often used for esophageal cancer. It uses a beam from outside your body.

For internal or implant radiation, a radioactive source is temporarily placed in a tube inside the esophagus right up against the tumor. This method is typically used with more advanced esophageal cancers. The internal radiation reduces the tumor size so you can swallow more easily. This approach is often used as a way to relieve symptoms, not cure the cancer.

Side effects of radiation to the esophagus may include:

  • Redness and tenderness to the skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue

Often these side effects go away when treatment ends. Your doctor may be able to give you some medication to make you more comfortable during treatment.

Return to list of treatment options.

Back to “Understanding Esophageal Cancer: An Introduction”