Oesophageal Cancer

My husband has been diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. The treatment offered is an oesophagectomy. We have met with the surgeon and information given to us was not encouraging. The statistics given were 1.5 Pc of patients do not survive the surgery,we are unsure what this actually means, could be dies during surgery,or after due to complicatiions,or maybe in however many years.very confusing and distressing. The anaesthetist says after the stress test he is 100pc fit but because of previous health issues would restrict this by 40pc.So how can he understand the risks  and make a decision?

  • Hello Yvonner and thank you for posting. I am sorry you are going through this with your husband, an incredibly stressful time for you both. 

    It is important that you both feel you have all the information you need to make this decision about oesophageal surgery.

    The anaesthetist and surgeon are there to assess the risk and give you a realistic idea of the expected outcome of the surgery. Usually, when a surgeon gives a percentage of people who do not survive the surgery, I would expect they mean the surgery itself so during the operation and the immediate aftercare.

    Everyone is assessed for their performance status for treatment, if someone has previous health concerns these will affect what grade or percentage that someone is given. The stress test that your husband did as part of his preassessment gives information that will help the surgical team with the potential care and support that your husband needs during and after surgery. 

    The statistics for cancer recurrence and survival once recovered from surgery would be different and they can depend on the health of the person and the type and stage at diagnosis. The doctor and the specialist nurse (CNS) involved in your husband's care will be able to talk through his risks of recurrence in relation to the risks of the surgery so that you both understand better. 

    We do have statistics on survival from oesophageal cancer on our website if helpful to go through with the surgeon 

    Take care and if you find it helpful to talk things through with one of the nurses on our helpline.  The number to call is Freephone 0808 800 4040 and the lines are open from 9am till 5pm Monday to Friday.

    Sarah.