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.

Rehabilitation and Exercise

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.

Palliative Care and Pain Management

If you’re in pain — whether it’s during your treatments or even months after they’re over — you don’t have to suffer. Our experts can help.

Our specialists in palliative care and pain management can give you solutions for physical pain that comes on suddenly as well as chronic pain that lingers.

Our palliative care specialists are trained to ease the side effects of cancer treatment and work with our pain experts to build a plan that makes sense for you and your needs, both during your treatment and after it.

Palliative treatments are not intended to cure your cancer, but can relieve pain and discomfort caused by the disease. If the tumor is blocking the esophagus or pushing on certain nerves, for example, palliative approaches can provide relief and make it easier to swallow.

Our dedicated outpatient programs are here for you and your caregivers, and we can work with your doctor and local pharmacists to keep you as comfortable as possible.

Learn more about how we can relieve your pain.

Counseling and Support

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.

Integrative Medicine

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.

Nutrition

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.

Older Patients

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.

Tobacco Treatment

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.