Stomach and Oesophageal Cancers
- The oesophagus and stomach
- What are stomach and oesophageal cancers?
- What are the symptoms of stomach and oesophageal cancers?
- What are the risk factors?
- How are stomach and oesophageal cancers diagnosed?
- The staging and prognosis of stomach and oesophageal cancers
- Treatment for stomach cancer
- Treatment for oesophageal cancer
- Managing side effects of treatment
- Life after treatment
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Stomach and Oesophageal Cancers
Life after treatment
For most people, the cancer experience doesn’t end on the last day of treatment. Life after cancer treatment can present its own challenges. You may have mixed feelings when treatment ends, and worry that every ache and pain means the cancer is coming back.
It is important to allow yourself time to adjust to the physical and emotional changes, and establish a new daily routine at your own pace. Cancer Council 13 11 20 can help you connect with other people who have had cancer, and provide you with information about the emotional and practical aspects of living well after cancer.
After treatment ends, you will have regular appointments to monitor your health, manage any long-term side effects and check that the cancer hasn’t come back or spread. You will also be able to discuss how you’re feeling and mention any concerns you may have. You may have blood tests, imaging scans or an endoscopy if necessary. However, routine tests have not been shown to be of benefit and are not recommended by current treatment guidelines.
How often you will need to see your doctor will depend on the level of monitoring needed for the type and stage of the cancer. You should also see a dietitian for advice about good nutrition. Check-ups will become less frequent if you have no further problems. Between follow-up appointments, let your doctor know immediately of any health problems. When a follow-up appointment or test is approaching, many people find that they think more about the cancer and may feel anxious. Talk to your treatment team or call Cancer Council 13 11 20 for help.
For some people, stomach or oesophageal cancer does come back after treatment, which is known as a recurrence. If the cancer returns, you may have further treatment, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery. Sometimes people have palliative treatment to ease symptoms. Treatment may be similar to what you had after your initial diagnosis, or you may be offered a different type of treatment if the cancer comes back in another part of your body.
If you have continued feelings of sadness, have trouble getting up in the morning or have lost motivation to do things that previously gave you pleasure, you may be experiencing depression. This is quite common among people who have had cancer.
Talk to your GP, as counselling or medication – even for a short time – may help. Some people can get a Medicare rebate for sessions with a psychologist. Ask your doctor if you are eligible.
This information is reviewed by
This information was last reviewed October 2019 by the following expert content reviewers: Prof David Watson, Senior Consultant Surgeon, Oesophago-gastric Surgery Unit, Flinders Medical Centre, and Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor of Surgery, Flinders University, SA; Kate Barber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; Katie Benton, Advanced Dietitian, Cancer Care, Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, QLD; Alana Fitzgibbon, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Gastrointestinal Cancers, Royal Hobart Hospital, TAS; Christine Froude, Consumer; Dr Andrew Oar, Radiation Oncologist, Icon Cancer Centre, Gold Coast University Hospital, QLD; Dr Spiro Raftopoulos, Interventional Endoscopist and Consultant Gastroenterologist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, WA; Grant Wilson, Consumer; Prof Desmond Yip, Clinical Director, Department of Medical Oncology, The Canberra Hospital, ACT.