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.

Can chemo actually shrink a tumour.?

Posted by

I have osophagias cancer and starting chemo soon and am interested to know if chemo can shrink my tumour.? 

Posted by


I don't have personal experience of treatment with chemotherapy but noticed that your post hadn't had any responses. By responding to you it will 'bump' it back to the top of the page where it'll be more easily seen by someone who has had this treatment.

I've found this information for you on chemotherapy for oesophageal cancer where you'll see that it says "Chemotherapy is often given before an operation to remove an oesophageal cancer. This is sometimes called neoadjuvant chemotherapy. It can shrink the tumour, making it easier to remove."

When you have a minute it would be really useful if could pop something about your journey so far into your profile as it helps others when answering or looking for someone with a similar diagnosis. It also means that you don't have to keep repeating yourself. To do this click on your username and then select 'Edit Profile'. You can amend it at any time and if you're not sure what to write you can take a look at mine by clicking on my username.

I hope this helps 


 "Never regret a day in your life, good days give you happiness, bad days give you experience"

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Posted by


This is my experience 

Yes. EC chemo shrank my breast cancer tumour. 

if you're bored read on ...

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2015 and initially was told I didn't need chemo and that surgery would be sufficient, surgery being the quickest way to remove tumours that are accessible, avoiding the rather harsh effects of chemo. However there are a lot of cancers that cannot be removed with surgery so in these instances the chemo side effects need to be endured. 

In breast cancer there are several different types and some of the more aggressive types require chemo post surgery as belt and braces. 

In my particular case I was left with a second tumour that was missed during surgery, partly because the MRI scan report hadn't picked it up.

My concern in having chemo post surgery was that there was no clear and obvious mechanism to check it had been effective and I was reluctant to proceed. 

However, since the team refused to surgically remove this second tumour, as I was, in their opinion, destined to have chemo anyway, I was then able to experience the effectiveness of the chemo regime I was prescribed. 

Hopefully someone else will be able to share their experiences specific to you but in my experience it does shrink tumours.



 real life success stories to remind you that people do survive breast cancer

Dr Peter Harvey


Posted by

Hi there,

Sorry you find yourself here but welcome to the forum, lots of supportive and friendly folks here.

The short answer to you question is yes it can.  Chemo is often used pre-surgery, and sometimes just on its own both with a view to shrink or contain a tumor.  

What kind of chemo has your doctor recommended you?  Not sure what stage you're at but I wish you all the best, I hope you have some support around you, feel free to write any time if it helps.

Posted by


the simple answer is yes. The more correct answer is That’s the intention.

The more difficult to answer question is so what? It will still need to be removed!

Counting the days, making every day count.


Posted by

We also asked this question to our oncologist at one point and his honest answer was that the chemo treatment is more for the rest of the cancer contamination other than the visable tumor, and the objective to that is to improve the prognosis after the operation to remove the tumor itself.

The trouble with this disease is that if you dont kill whatever around and make a good resection, then you chance of recurrance at which point the patient is in bigger trouble..

In his exact words, shrinking the tumor was the added bonus

This is what we have learned from our doctor....

Posted by

My oncologist said there was no guarantee. As Brent posted earlier even if it shrinks the tumour still has to be surgically removed. Everyone has to decide what they think is the best way for themselves.

Good luck and kind regards Frank.

Posted by


Echoing everybodies comments, there are no guarentees etc and everyone is diff.

However i have just completed 3 cycles of ECX chemo and my tumour has shrunk and SUV  9 < 4 with no evidence of any activity anywhere else, a great result for me. I now go into keyhole surgery on the 20th.

good luck with your journey.


Posted by

Well done. Can you keep us updated please.

Posted by

Hi Ukjazzer,

I am 18 months post my oesophagectomy and prior to this I had 5 weeks of combined chemo and radiotherapy. Are you having radiotherapy as well as chemo. I was T3 N0 prior to treatment and my oncologist informed me that the chemo and radiotherapy work together, the chemo is targeted so does have a direct impact on the tumour. When I had my surgery I was advised by the surgeon that they couldn’t see the tumour so clearly the treatment worked.

Really hope up you are on a curable path. It’s a long slog ahead and you need to focus on each stage and not look too far ahead. But I can tell you that 18 months on I am feeling relatively “normal” back at work and cycling most days.

Take care and all the very best!


Posted by

Hi I had 5 weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy then op after the op the surgeon said the chemo and radiotherapy had worked and killed the cancer he said he done the op to confirm 100% it had gone he said I am 100% percent cancer free had op end of July still feel tired but getting better every day so I think it works I was very lucky and had no bad side effects from it hope this helps you good luck


Keep the hope
Posted by

Thank you. I start 8 weeks of chemo this thursday . I have cancer of the gullet. I am a bit down to be honest. Looking like a major op in feb after giving the chemo a few weeks to clear. Its described as a curative op. Which is good. But I'm struggling to come to terms with 8 weeks of chemo. 1 session every 2 weeks . Trying to hang in there 

Posted by

Hi there,

Can totally understand you feeling down.. going through diagnosis, all the tests and then getting ready for chemo - it's a very tough time.

Everyone takes to chemo differently, some have very little side effects but even if you do there is plenty of help here, nurses will monitor you and the doc can always tweak things to help.  Take some comfort in the fact that there is a care plan in place for you, and it is curative - lots on here have been through the op and can help tell you what to expect.  My advice to you would be to take it one step at a time, it can all be quite overwhelming I know.  Do you have some support around you?   The Macmillan nurses are great - there is a helpline and if you have a centre at your hospital you can just pop in for a chat - they can help with all aspects of what you're going through. 

My husband has just finished his 3rd cycle and the 4th is this week, it can be both emotionally and physically draining but we take it one step at a time.  I wish you lots of luck with your treatment - there's lots of support here on the forum as well so just reach out if you have any questions or just want to talk or vent.  

Posted by

Thank you. Chemo starts tomorrow. Over 8 weeks. 4 visits to hospital. Trying to stay strong.  Regards Chris 

Posted by

Hi ,

As  says, everybody reacts differently. In my case I was diagnosed T3N2M0 esophageal cancer. I had 4 doses of FLOT pre-surgery. My tumour was 6cm in size and bulging out of my oesophagus and resting on my diaphram. I had 6 cancerous lymph nodes.

Surgery removed 1/3 of my stomach, a few inches of my oesophagus, and 36 lymph nodes. 

All that they found of my tumour was a scar and all my lymph nodes were biopsied and proved negative for cancer. This was a great disappointment for the small army of people who I had signed up for clinical trials with who wanted a bit of my tumour. 

So for me chemo (FLOT) not only shrank my tumour but cured me of cancer!