Gullet (oesophagus) cancer

A support group for anyone affected by gullet cancer (also known as oesophageal cancer) to come together, share experiences and ask questions.

recovery after Ivor Lewis surgery for early diagnosed cancer

Posted by


I'm now 9 months from surgery ( Ivor Lewis ) performed last June.

I'm still experiencing significant pain around edge of rib cage and also lower abdomen.

Too many pain killers add to issues with constipation!

Is this usual?


Posted by


I'm not a member of this group but I noticed that your question had gone unanswered. I presume that you've already had a chat about this with your CNS and s/he hasn't been able to get to the bottom of what's causing it.

If you don't get any responses from others in this group could I suggest that you give the cancer nurses on the Macmillan Support Line a call on 0808 808 0000 or post your question in ask a nurse. The support line is free to call and is available daily between 8am and 8pm but if you prefer to use the online ask a nurse then you should get a reply within 2 working days.

I hope you can get some help with this pain soon.


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Posted by


I had Ivor Lewis surgery last August. I have 'dead zones' (no feeling) close to my main surgical scar and pain on and near my main surgical scar and in my back. I still irregularly take pain killers (like today). I have found co-Dydramol works best for me and is even more effective for me than oral morphine. I did have a broken rib during surgery (hence the pain in my back). But my pain in my back and around my major scar is getting less with time. The pain used to wake me up if I rolled onto my left side. This no longer happens. I don't have and have never had lower abdomen pain though. 

I have recently started physiotherapy at my local cancer unit and they have given me exercises to stretch around my major scar. I can feel things are tight around my primary scar and am hoping the exercises will reduce my pain even more in time. 

Posted by

Hi, when you talk about major scar and primary scar I am slightly confused. I have a major scar on the right side and I believe they have to break a rib or two so they can access the oesophagus. I have about 6 small scars around my abdomen caused by keyhole surgery. None of them cause me any pain or problems. With regards to sleeping, my surgeon advised me not to lie on my left side as what was  now my new stomach was behind my right lung. And as there was no longer a valve at the top of the stomach junction the acid would just flow into my new gullet. I did once but never again I woke up choking and could hardly breathe, my throat was burning. I sat up immediately and once I could breathe ok went and got a glass of cold milk to soothe my throat. I had my Ivor Lewis surgery in October 2016 and I am doing really well and enjoying life. Good luck and kind regards Frank.

Posted by

Hi Paul,

You've good advice and support from the guys on here - the only thing I can add is daily Physio - I had my Ivor Lewis Sept 2017 and within a week of surgery was given some simple physio exercises to do twice a day - I still do them !! I was particularly stiff on the right hand side as like you and others the broken rib(s) take time to heal .

Re the constipation - there are few things you can take like fibrogel and something perhaps diagnosed from your oncologist or surgeon ?

Keep positive and all the best on your journey to recovery 

Best Wishes