Preparing for your appointment

If your family doctor suspects you have esophageal cancer, you may be referred to a number of doctors who will help evaluate your condition. Your health care team may include doctors who:

  • Evaluate the esophagus (gastroenterologists)
  • Treat cancer with chemotherapy and other medications (oncologists)
  • Perform surgery (surgeons)
  • Use radiation to treat cancer (radiation oncologists)

To get the most from your appointment, it's a good idea to be well-prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready, and to know what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. When you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet.
  • Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
  • Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements you're taking.
  • Consider taking a family member or friend along. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

Preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time with your doctor. For esophageal cancer, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • Where is my esophageal cancer?
  • How advanced is my cancer?
  • Can you explain the pathology report to me?
  • What other tests do I need?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • What are the potential side effects of each treatment option?
  • Is there one treatment option you feel is the best?
  • What would you recommend to a friend or family member in my situation?
  • Should I see a specialist?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
  • What will determine whether I should plan for a follow-up visit?

Don't hesitate to ask any other questions that occur to you during your appointment.

April 04, 2017
References
  1. Esophageal and esophagogastric junction cancers. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. https://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Nov. 22, 2016.
  2. Niederhuber JE, et al., eds. Cancer of the esophagus. In: Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Nov. 22, 2016.
  3. Cameron JL, et al., eds. Neoadjuvant and adjuvant therapy of esophageal cancer. Current Surgical Therapy. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Nov. 22, 2016.
  4. What you need to know about cancer of the esophagus. National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/wyntk-esophagus-cancer. Accessed Nov. 22, 2016.
  5. Saltzman JR, et al. Diagnosis and staging of esophageal cancer. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 22, 2016.
  6. Gibson MK, et al. Epidemiology, pathobiology, and clinical manifestations of esophageal cancer. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 22, 2016.