Your medical or surgical oncologist may recommend one of three different forms of chemotherapy. Neo-adjuvant or primary systemic chemotherapy is used before radiation or surgery to shrink the cancer. Adjuvant chemotherapy is used after radiation or surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells. Systemic chemotherapy circulates throughout the body via the bloodstream when the cancer is metastatic. Chemotherapy alone is rarely used as the sole esophageal cancer treatment. It is typically given together with radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy may be used as a primary treatment when surgery is not an option, post-surgery in order to destroy any cancerous cells left behind, or in combination with chemotherapy and targeted therapy. One of several highly sophisticated forms of External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT) or Internal Radiation Therapy (IRT) may be recommended depending on the size and location of the tumor or tumors.