Oesophageal Patients Association
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Hi my dad was diagnosed Nov 2014 with opsoagus cancer which has spread to lymph nodes. He is 67 years old. We have been told he can't be cured.he is currently receiving chemotherapy which we have been told on Wed that it isn't shrinking it. And chemotherapy will only give 3 months onto the time they expect him to live. Can any one tell me what the life expectancy is for this . A think he is stage 3 or 4. Thank you. Debbie .

11 Replies

Hi Debbie, I can only tell you from my experience that when I was first diagnosed they thought stage 3 tumor size of a golf ball no known lymph node involvement until just before my surgery they did a sonogram endocope and found one that they could not remove during my surgery but before my surgery the radiation & chemo shrunk my tumor for me to be able to have surgery. I did both chemo and radiation to shrink the tumor. Did your father have both radiation and chemo? I believe the stage is very important but I also know people that had a later stage than I and are still with us. So stay positive and be his medical advocate! If you have read some of the other members here they have given me so much hope and I just finished my last treatment of Herceptin last week and I am having my port removed tomorrow and am cancer free!!! I was diagnosed Dec 2, 2013 when I went to the ER because I was having troubling eating but thought it was related to a tooth implant so ignored that but my biggest complaint was that I felt shooting pains in my stomach went to the Urgent care and the physicians assistant stated that I may have a bleeding ulcer and told me to check in with my General Practioner. Just knew something was not right so went to the ER the next day and called a girlfriend of mine whims husband is a Physician and let them know along with my general doctor that I was going there. A heads up if you will. I have incredible earth angels one of them my husband and very incredible friends that were my advocates in the hospital and out and a very proactive medical team that had me tattooed for the radiation the following week after diagnosis. Just be proactive, as you are by posting on this site. I am thinking of you and hope I shed some light and helped you! There is so much they can do now and I hope that they can help him and your family! Loving thoughts!



Hi Debbie

My treatment , for a stage 2 tumour , involved 23 radiotherapy sessions and five chemo sessions. That destroyed the tumour. I still needed to have my bits removed but the risk of a return was lowered by the treatment

Good luck and maybe press for a second opinion on the treatment plan ?


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The fact that the cancer has spread to lymph nodes is a bad sign, because they are the 'road junctions' as it were by which the cancer spreads. There will have been an analysis on a TNM basis. T stands for the stage that the tumour has reached (ie how far into the lining of the oesophagus the tumour has reached); N the number of lymph nodes affected; and M for whether there has been metastatic spread ie the same cancer spreading to other parts of the body.

Chemotherapy may well delay the inevitable, but sometimes cancer is like a virus; it keeps changing its nature. Some people react to chemotherapy well and others do not; it is a very personal thing. So when you go through this palliative chemotherapy (ie it is not intended as a cure as such) there is a balance between delaying the inevitable decline of terminal illness, and enjoying what quality of life is possible for the time that is granted. That is a personal decision really; some people opt not to continue with chemotherapy if the treatment itself gives them too much of a hard time.

So you probably have to face that difficult dilemma, which is what nobody really wants to do; but it is inevitable at some point in many people's lives. You will probably not hear from the doctors any particular time frame. The reason is that it is more important to enjoy what quality of life can be achieved rather than thinking that the disease gives a set length of time. And if there are things that your father wants to do, it is best not to delay. It is a difficult thing to come to terms with, and planning as such does get thrown aside. Maintaining a pain-free environment and dignity are good aims. Pain management should be to a very good standard these days - the hospices tend to be best at it.

It may be helpful to try OPA_Charlie's Circle.

I do wish you and your family and your father every best wish.

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Hi thanks for your kind replys.and taking time too answer. I have read that the life expectancy is 6 months with this type of cancer and stage. Can anyone shed any light on there experience thank you x


Hello Debbie

I personally have no experience with cancer at this stage. My wife was fortunate it was diagnosed before it had spread to lymph nodes.

But what I do know is that nothing in life equips you to deal with these moments.

I pray that you and your father will be given the strength to face all that is thrown at you and the wisdom to make the right decisions. Your Dad is fortunate to have such a caring and loving daughter like you - but I'm sure he knows that already.

God bless.

Big hugs ........



Thank you for your kind word and taking the time to answer. A wish you and your wife the best of health for the future .debbie x


Hello Debbie

Which hospital is your Dad attending ?

If you care to share this we may have other members who have been treated in the same center

and their recollections might be helpful to you -- particularly about whether it would be advisable to exercise your right to ask for a second opinion.

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Hi my dad attends the beaston hospital in glasgow. Xx


Hello Debbie

Here is an excerpt from a 2011 paper the lead authors of which are at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre.

It has some relevance to your situation.

Quote :


many years we have made small steps improving survival

using changes in the dosing, scheduling and combinations

of traditional chemotherapies but the real breakthroughs

have come from the novel targeted agents.

Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumours (RECIST)

computerised tomography (CT) is the common method

of assessing response to treatment. Essentially, index

lesions are chosen and the sum added up and then

response is divided into four subgroups: complete

response, partial response, stable disease and progressive

disease. However, these agents are often cytostatic (stop

the cancer growing) rather than tumour shrinking and

many doctors and patients would argue that long-term

stable disease is much more meaningful than a tumour

shrinkage which is then short-lived. Therefore measuring

responders as only those with tumour shrinkage may no

longer be appropriate. Instead, physicians are increasingly

using waterfall plots (which show the change in size of

each individual tumour rather than splitting them into

these arbitrary categories) to illustrate the effectiveness

of novel agents and it is clear from examining these that

although only a small percentage of patients may make

the cut-off for a complete or partial response, that a

huge number benefit from the treatment.


The BWSCC is the center of excellence for your part of the country and you can be assured that the treatment is the best available.It promotes itself as the most advanced facility in the whole of the UK.

Upper GI is a specialized interest.

There is a large Macmillan Unit there who will be of very great help and support.

Alan - do you have access to any ratings ?


Thank you for this information. But I dnt understand it too much. Xx



Here is a link to the main Macmillan site so that you can see what is available. It would be a good idea to talk to them in your hospital.


Sorry about the medical jargon.With a very complicated subject you often need special language to describe it accurately. It would not be right for a non-medically qualified person (me) to try and translate in case I got it wrong !

The thrust of the article was that little by little they are improving treatments every day and,by a happy coincidence those clever Doctors work in the hospital where your Dad is a patient.


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