Page 6 - Family Help
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Understanding oesophageal (gullet) cancer

               people. There are two main types: squamous cell carcinoma and
               adenocarcinoma. The causes of oesophageal cancer are not always known, but
               it would appear to be more common in people who have long-standing acid reflux
               (backflow of stomach acid into the oesophagus). Damage to the oesophagus
               caused by acid reflux is known as Barrett’s oesophagus. On occasion, patients
               undergo this surgery for non-cancerous conditions.

               Barrett’s oesophagus is a condition whereby abnormal cells develop in the lining
               of the lower end of the oesophagus. It is not a cancer, however, over an extended
               period of time a small number of people with this condition (around 1 in 100
               patients with Barretts) may develop a cancer of the oesophagus.

               Squamous cell carcinoma is more common among smokers and people who drink
               a lot of alcohol (especially spirits) or have a poor diet.

               In most people, cancer of the oesophagus is not caused by an inherited faulty
               gene and so other members of your family are not likely to be at risk of developing
               it. However, a very small number of people, who have a rare inherited skin
               condition known as tylosis, may develop oesophageal cancer.

               Difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) is a common symptom of oesophageal cancer.
               Usually, there is a feeling that food is sticking on its way down to the stomach,
               although liquids may be swallowed easily at first. There may also be some weight
               loss, and possibly some pain or discomfort behind the breastbone or in the back.
               There may be indigestion or a cough. These symptoms can be caused by many
               things other than cancer, but you should always tell your doctor, particularly if they
               persist beyond a couple of weeks.

               Breathing before your operation
               If you are a smoker, it is vital to stop smoking as soon as possible. Help is
               available from your GP and most pharmacies. We also signpost individuals
               looking to stop smoking to the National Smoking Helpline:    Tel: 0300 123 1044

               Prior to your surgery a Surgical Specialist Physiotherapist will teach you how to
               use an inspiratory muscle training device; this device will help build up the
               strength in your breathing muscles so that they are fitter and more able to cope
               with your operation. Your fitness levels will also be assessed and advice around
               exercise before your surgery will be provided by the Physiotherapist. Current pre-
               operative service is awaiting confirmation of ongoing funding - March 2020.

               Nutrition before your operation
               It is very important to remain well-nourished before your operation. You may be
               advised to choose high calorie and high protein foods, fortify foods to add extra
               calories and protein and/or modify food textures. You will be guided by your
               Specialist UGI Dietitian on a one to one basis when you attend clinic, and you
               may be offered nutritional supplement drinks in the outpatients clinic or by your
               GP. If swallowing becomes increasingly difficult, you may require a feeding tube

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