Living Beyond Esophageal Cancer

At Memorial Sloan Kettering, we know that even after you’ve finished your cancer treatments, you may still need our help. We support you in every way we can — physically, emotionally, spiritually, and otherwise — for as long as you need us. 

We’ve built a program for cancer survivors and their families. Our Survivorship Center has many services for you and your loved ones, including support groups, follow-up programs, educational resources, and more.

Plus, our Resources for Life After Cancer program offers individual and family counseling, lectures, support groups, and practical help on employment and insurance issues, among other services. Visit the Survivorship Center to learn more.

Following treatment for esophageal cancer, you may notice changes in your range of motion, strength, flexibility, and endurance. Rehabilitation therapy at our Sillerman Center for Rehabilitation can help improve your quality of life.

At Memorial Sloan Kettering, our physical therapists work closely with your medical team to design exercise programs just for you that can help you increase your strength, endurance, and balance after treatment. We also address breathing problems that can happen after esophageal surgery, educating patients about the most effective way to cough and keep the airways clear.

Our team also has occupational therapists who can assist you in maintaining your independence and your ability to do everyday activities.

Learn more about how we can help you get moving again.

At Memorial Sloan Kettering, we focus on all aspects of comprehensive cancer care, not just treating the disease. Our specialists in supportive care can help you cope with the side effects of therapy. These include pain, nausea, and fatigue. We can also help with the emotional and spiritual needs that often come up during and after cancer treatment.

Learn more about how our Supportive Care Service can help you throughout the cancer experience.

If you are in pain during your treatments or even after they’re over, we have pain specialists who can help. We will build a plan that makes sense for you and your needs. Our experts can work with your doctor and pharmacists to give you solutions for both acute physical pain, which comes on suddenly, as well as chronic pain, which can linger. Our goal is to keep you as comfortable as possible.

Learn more about how we can relieve your pain.

Sometimes, you and your loved ones just need someone to talk to, someone who’s trained to help you make sense of your experience before, during, and after treatment for cancer.

Our Counseling Center offers individual and group counseling sessions to help you and your family cope with your disease. These sessions can be a healthy, productive way to work through the stress and anxiety can be part of treatment and recovery.

Learn more about how we can support your emotional well-being.

Medical treatments — things like chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery — are often the best way to treat your cancer. But at MSK, we know that other services can help soothe and heal not only your body but also your mind and spirit.

Our Integrative Medicine Service can be a valuable part of your treatment plan. Programs we offer include massage, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, meditation, visualization, music therapy, and nutritional counseling. Classes include yoga, tai chi, and chair aerobics.

Learn more about the variety of complementary services we offer.

After treatment for esophageal cancer, we may recommend that you adjust your diet to manage side effects and to ensure that you’re getting enough nutrients.

If you are having trouble eating after surgery, your doctors may ask you to follow a liquid or soft diet, or you may be given a feeding tube to bring food directly to your stomach. This is usually temporary — often just while you’re recovering from surgery.

Our nutritionists will work with you to design a food plan, and they will discuss other ways to change your eating habits to make you more comfortable. If you undergo esophageal surgery, you may need to:

  • eat several small meals each day instead of fewer large meals
  • avoid certain foods, such as milk, chocolate, sweets, and spiced and fried foods
  • change your sleeping position so that your head is slightly elevated, to prevent food and stomach acids from traveling back up through the esophagus
  • stop drinking or smoking to reduce the chance that a new cancer will develop
  • improve your appetite and nutrition

These adjustments can be easier for some patients than for others. If you have trouble, our extensive support program can help you.

Learn more about our nutrition services for patients and survivors.

Cancer and its treatment are a challenge for anyone, regardless of age. But if you’re over 65, you may face unique issues that affect people in your age group only. We’re committed to giving cancer patients of all ages the treatment, facilities, and support they need.

Your treatment team will include healthcare professionals who have special training and experience to treat older patients. Every aspect of your care — diagnosis, treatment, recovery, support — will be tailored to meet your needs.

Learn more about how we care for older patients.

Beyond the many other health issues it causes, smoking is a serious risk factor for many types of cancer. It can also make cancer treatments less effective. If you smoke, we want to help you stop — now — to reduce your risk of developing a second cancer or hurting your treatment.

The Tobacco Treatment Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering is ready to help if you’re ready to quit. Giving up tobacco is hard. And quitting while in treatment is a unique challenge. But it’s a challenge you can overcome, and we can help you do it. We’ll also help family members who want to quit with you.

Learn more about how we can help you quit using tobacco, for good.