Esophageal Cancer

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Nutrition

During and after your treatment for esophageal cancer, it’s important to maintain good nutrition so you’re as strong and healthy as you can be. At times, this may be challenging because both the disease and its treatments might affect your desire and ability to eat and drink.

Your Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) team will help you make sure you’re well nourished and hydrated. Whether you’re having radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or surgery, we have nutritionists to support you. We will let you know what to expect, monitor how you’re doing, give you individualized recommendations, and suggest ways to make dietary changes that work for you.

Common Nutritional Concerns

A nutritionist can help with a wide range of issues related to eating and drinking during treatment. Radiation therapy that targets your esophagus may make it difficult or painful to swallow, especially later in your treatment course.

Side effects of chemotherapy may include low appetite, nausea, and diarrhea. Losing too much weight during your course of chemotherapy may mean you have to receive a lower dose or take a treatment break. If part of your esophagus is removed with surgery, you may be more prone to reflux and regurgitation.

Getting the Help You Need

The best time to get nutritional advice is before you develop any nutritional problems. With the right guidance, you may be able to prevent problems before they start. But no matter where you are in your treatment, your SCCA team is ready to help.

Nutritionists are available to work with you to:

  • Prepare your body for treatment by eating well before treatment starts
  • Set specific goals for adequate nutrition and fluid intake, and check whether you’re getting enough
  • Figure out which foods are easiest to tolerate with your symptoms
  • Find ways to maintain or increase protein intake to help keep up muscle mass and weight
  • Choose nutrient-dense foods to get as much nutrition as possible with every meal
  • Change your diet after surgery, such as eating smaller portions of soft foods, avoiding high-fat and spicy dishes, and not drinking liquids with meals

Let your doctor or your team’s scheduler know if you’d like to meet with a nutritionist.

Learn more about medical nutrition therapy.