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What to Expect After External Beam Radiation for Esophageal Cancer

Radiation affects normal cells as well as cancer cells. This means it can cause side effects. What they are depends on what part of your body is treated. It also depends on the amount and the type of radiation you get. For esophageal cancer, most of the effects of radiation are in the area of your throat, neck, and chest.

Here’s an overview of how you may feel after having external beam radiation therapy (EBRT):

  • The skin around the area treated may get irritated. The skin may be red, flake, or drain fluid.

  • You may lose hair in the treatment area. Some of it may grow back.

  • You may feel very tired, or fatigued, for about a month after your treatment is done.

  • You may have swelling in your neck or chest.

  • You may have burning, tightness, or pain when swallowing and eating.

  • You may have pain or irritation in your esophagus. Or your throat may feel dry and sore.

  • You may have a dry mouth or a dry cough.

  • You may have some nausea and vomiting.

  • You may have shortness of breath.

Tell your healthcare team if you notice any of these problems. They can help you ease them. Some of these side effects will go away with time.