Advanced oesophageal cancer

If the cancer has spread from where it first started in the oesophagus, it is known as advanced cancer. The cancer may be advanced when it is first diagnosed, or it may have come back after treatment. This is called a recurrent cancer.

Often, the biggest problem people with advanced oesophageal cancer have is difficulty swallowing.

If you have advanced oesophageal cancer, you may still be offered chemotherapy, radiotherapy and targeted therapies. These treatments won’t be able to cure the cancer, but may be able to shrink the tumour. This may control it for a time, to improve symptoms (such as difficulty swallowing) and quality of life.

Back to Treating

Making treatment decisions

Your doctors may tell you there are different options for your treatment. Having the right information will help you make the right decision for you.


Surgery involves removing all or part of the cancer with an operation. It is an important treatment for many cancers.


Chemotherapy uses drugs to treat many different types of cancer. It is most commonly given as an injection into a vein or as tablets or capsules.


Radiotherapy is the use of high-energy rays, usually x-rays and similar rays (such as electrons) to treat cancer.

Treating swallowing problems

Cancer may block the oesophagus and cause swallowing problems. Different types of treatment are available to help.

Clinical trials

Many people are offered a trial as part of treatment. Find out more to help you decide if a trial is right for you.

Life after cancer treatment

You might be thinking about how to get back to normal following treatment. Find advice, information and support about coping with and after cancer.