Oesophagus Cancer Treatment

Supporting you during treatment

You will be reviewed regularly during your treatment by your Team. Please report any concerns to the Triage Nurse or to the Radiation Therapists on your treatment unit prior to having your treatment.

We are here to support you whilst you undergo radiation therapy. If you have medical conditions that are not cancer related please continue to seek advice from your general practitioner.

If at any time you feel you are very unwell, you should not wait until your next radiation therapy appointment. Please go to your nearest emergency department.

Managing side effects

Radiation therapy side effects vary from person to person. The following are some common side effects.

Pain, heartburn or difficulty swallowing

This can be caused by the radiation therapy to your oesophagus and can get worse as treatment progresses.

  • It is important to maintain your weight and fluid intake during treatment. If you notice any weight loss or have difficulty eating or drinking, please inform the Triage Nurse.
  • Avoid irritants such as cigarettes or alcohol.
  • You will be seen by a dietitian early in your treatment.

Nausea and vomiting

This treatment may cause nausea (feeling sick) and vomiting.

  • If you feel sick please let the Triage Nurse know.
  • If necessary you will be seen by a dietitian early in your treatment.


It is not unusual to feel tired while you are having treatment.

  • Rest if necessary
  • See the Triage Nurse for more information

Skin reaction

  • During radiation therapy the skin in the treatment area may become red and sore. It is important not to use anything on your skin which may cause irritation. Use only the products advised by the staff.
  • Hair loss may occur in the treatment area

Please follow these guidelines:


  • Use mild, unscented, non-alcohol based soap.
  • Use warm water, rinse and pat dry with a soft towel.
  • Use a moisturiser, like sorbolene with 10% glycerine, which does not contain perfumes or additives and is a thin lotion not a thick cream.
  • Avoid sun exposure to the treatment area.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing.

Do not:

  • Use any tape or bandaids on the treatment area.
  • Rub, scrub or scratch the skin in the treatment area.
  • Use any creams, lotions, powders etc. unless recommended by your treatment team.
  • Use hot packs, hot water bottles, hot water, cold packs or ice packs on the treatment area.

After treatment instructions

After you have completed your radiation therapy it is important to remember to manage your symptoms until they have subsided.

  • The skin reaction may become worse after treatment has finished. Continue your skin care regime until the skin heals.
  • Always keep the treated area out of direct sunlight.
  • Continue to avoid alcohol and smoking as heartburn and difficulty swallowing may continue after treatment is completed.

What will happen after radiation therapy?

At your last ‘On Treatment Review’ appointment, your doctor will decide on the appropriate follow-up care.

Further information

For further information visit eviQ Cancer Treatments Online, an online service of the Cancer Institute NSW: www.eviQ.org.au