Oesophageal Patients Association
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What to expect?


I'm new to this group. My father has just recently been diagnosed with Oesophageal cancer. He had an endoscopy last week, which showed up a cancerous tumour. My father is in his 80's, and has osteoporosis quite badly.

Does anyone here know what treatments may be offered to him, or would he just be given palliative care (given his age)? I'm a bit clueless here - especially with benefits and social services, and need to wise up so I can give my mum support. They mentioned a McMillan nurse - I'm assuming the hospital is arranging this.

Scary - though my dad is fairly upbeat at the moment, and currently seeing various medics at the hospital.

Any advice given would be brilliant.


5 Replies


Sorry to hear about the problems you are facing, perhaps the best way is to talk to Dawn Williams at the OPA in Solihull on 0121 704 9860, she is probably more up to date than

most of us on benefits,, help etc. which can vary depending on location.

The medical team will be there to sort out treatment and the best way forward..

Sometimes talking to somebody as a two way discussion can help as all of us have different

needs. If Dawn feels I can be of any help she will give you my number.

Meanwhile remember most folk on this site will be thinking of you, your mum and dad.

Hope this may be of some help



There are plenty of people on here that can tell you about their experiences but there is not much information you have given. Treatment depends upon the severity of the cancer and where. Why was the endoscopy done? Was it because he could not swallow food? How far has the cancer spread. What level cancer T1 -T4 ? Its difficult to make any comment without more detail.

But whatever comments are made here it is essential that you take the advise of the medical team. They know what they are doing.

I was lucky and they caught my cancer early but whilst I was in hospital there was a man in his 80's who had major surgery on the gastric tract. At that age they can operate if the person is fit enough to go through surgery. Keep active. Keep walking.


There will be a number of tests, scans and so on which will then be reviewed by the various medical professionals in what they call a Multi Discipline team meeting. The surgeons, nurses, radiographers, oncologists etc work out the best treatment, looking at how advanced the tumour is in size, and whether it has grown through the wall of the oesophagus or not, whether it has spread to other parts of the body, and whether any lymph nodes are affected. Subject to these other things, the fitness of the patient is a criterion for whether surgery is offered or not, but age is not a criterion as such, but this might vary from hospital to hospital.

It does take a couple of weeks or so for all this to happen, and this can be very frustrating, but overall it is better to have a considered judgement by the experts involved. Meanwhile your parents and you have a period in which to try and adjust to the situation and what might happen. Try and work out what your questions are.

You will find that the specialist nurses are invaluable. Part of their role is to be on hand to answer your questions. They might not always be there on the phone straight away particularly during periods when clinics are operating.

Macmillan finance all sorts of posts in the health service, so the fact that somebody has Macmillan in their job title usually means that Macmillan have helped to fund the post in the first place - it is not as such a reflection of the treatment that they might have in mind.

An operation for oesophageal cancer involves removal of part of the oesophagus and/or stomach and it is a major operation that takes a lot of getting over. It is successful in many cases, but it needs careful thought beforehand because it is a test of stamina at the best of times.

There are two main sorts of oesophageal cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma that tends to occur higher up towards the throat (about 30% of cases), that can sometimes be treated successfully with chemotherapy and radiotherapy if it is caught in its very early stages; and adenocarcinoma (70% of cases) often linked to stomach acid, that tends to occur lower down towards the stomach.

There will probably be a Patient Advisory and Liaison Service (PALS) at the hospital that might give advice on the benefits side - otherwise the Macmillan website have various booklets. Most of the benefits are geared towards patients who are below retirement age.

You and your parents have our very best wishes.


Thank you for your replies. I will be speaking to my parents later today, and see how things are progressing. He had the endoscopy because he and his gp thought it was a hiatus hernia, though his gp got the exam booked within a couple of days so he must have thought it was pretty serious.

Will come back with more info later.


Great advice from others.Try Macmillan site and go to gullet cancer then log in to join forum.Lots of profiles that explain in detail diagnosis,treatment,surgery etc etc.Its a great site just like this one with sufferers just like us for advice friendship etc.I must say this site and mac site was so helpful to me in the early dark days!!!! 16 months post op and doing just dandy!!



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