Esophageal cancer

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Side effects of laser surgery for esophageal cancer

Side effects can happen with any type of treatment for esophageal cancer, but everyone’s experience is different. Some people have many side effects. Other people have few or none at all.

Side effects can develop any time during, immediately after or a few days or weeks after laser surgery. Sometimes late side effects can occur months or years after laser surgery. Most side effects go away on their own or can be treated, but some may last a long time or become permanent.

Tell the healthcare team if you have these side effects or others you think might be from your laser surgery. The sooner you tell them of any problems, the sooner they can suggest ways to help you deal with them.

Side effects of laser surgery for esophageal cancer


Laser surgery may cause swelling in the esophagus. Swelling of the esophagus can make swallowing difficult. Swelling is usually temporary.

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Abdominal discomfort

Laser surgery may cause some discomfort in the stomach area. Abdominal discomfort is usually a temporary side effect of laser surgery.

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Hole in the wall of the esophagus

Sometimes the laser beam used in laser surgery is not focused at the proper angle or isn’t adjusted properly. When this happens, it can make a hole, or perforation, through the wall of the esophagus.

Sometimes a small hole can heal on its own. In other cases, surgery can be done to repair the hole.

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Heat from the laser seals off blood vessels. As a result, bleeding is less likely to occur with laser surgery than after surgery with a knife, or scalpel.

Tell your healthcare team if you have heavy bleeding after laser surgery.

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A fistula is an abnormal opening or passage between 2 internal organs or between an internal organ and the surface of the body. Fistulas may develop between the esophagus and trachea (windpipe) in people treated with laser surgery for esophageal cancer. This may cause some food to leak into the trachea, which can lead to infection.

Surgery is often needed to repair a fistula.

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Cancer affects all Canadians

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