chemoradiation side effect

I finished my treatment for oesopageal cancer in the middle of June and have been suffering from side effects ever since, Eating is the major issue but my oncologist has given me some antacid containing an anaesthetic which helps with the discomfort, although I still need to stick to liquids or very soft foods.  The latest problem is that after a few mouthfuls of something like porridge or anything with a little substance to it, I feel that something is blocked and I have to be sick to clear it.  After that I can carry on and continue eating whatever it was.  This really doesn't make any sense to me, and wondered if you have any thoughts as to why this is happening and how I can stop it.  I had a higher than normal dose of radiation for 5 weeks because I am on the Scope 2 trial.

  • Hi  

    Thanks for getting in touch with our online community. My name’s Louise and I’m one of the Cancer Information Nurse Specialists here.

    I’m sorry to hear you are struggling with side effects since your treatment. It must be frustrating to feel like you have a blockage that only feels clear after being sick.

    Many people with cancer experience eating problems, for a range of reasons. It would be difficult to say exactly what might be causing the blocked feeling, and why you are having to be sick to clear it before carrying on eating. This is because everyone is different and because we don’t have access to medical records and so are not directly involved in care.

    Radiotherapy can cause side effects even some weeks or months after treatment. Radiotherapy for oesophageal cancer can cause difficulty swallowing for a few weeks after radiotherapy has finished. Sometimes radiotherapy can cause long term side effects such as difficulty swallowing because the treatment can damage the tissue in the oesophagus, although this is rare.

    We would always encourage anyone to report any new or worsening symptoms to their healthcare team. They can talk through your side effects and symptoms and give you the right advice and arrange for any medications if needed.

    You can contact your consultant or specialist nurse (CNS) and leave them a message. If you don’t have their contact details the consultant or CNS can be reached via the medical secretaries. Because you are involved in the Scope 2 trial you could also contact your trials nurse or team.

    One thing that’s important to mention is if you experience any choking when you are eating or drinking contact 111 straight away. This is because choking can cause foods and liquids to go into the lungs and cause a type of pneumonia.

    It’s important to get the right nutrition and calories to maintain energy levels and help with the healing process following treatments such as radiotherapy. If you have your dietician’s contact details you can get in touch with them or ask your healthcare team for a re-referral in case they need to offer further advice to help with swallowing and nutrition.

    I hope you manage to get some answers to the symptoms and side effects you mention. I can see you have joined our oesophageal cancer forum. These groups can be an invaluable way to share experiences with others in a similar situation. The Oesophageal Patients Association and Guts UK also have a range of information and support that might be helpful.

    Kind regards  

    Louise, Cancer Information Nurse Specialist  

    You can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or send us an email.  

    Our Ref:  LR/DT