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Study Finds Different Symptoms Cluster Together After Esophageal Cancer Surgery

Update Date: Nov 25, 2013 09:42 AM EST

A few months after undergoing surgery for esophageal cancer, different symptoms clustered together in some patients, a new study finds.

Those patients who develop certain symptom clusters after the surgery have more risks of dying from other diseases.

Esophageal cancer has a very poor prognosis. The surgery to remove esophagus can only help in curing it. Reports suggest that only 25 percent of the patients receive surgery after diagnosis. In the rest of the cases the tumor is too developed to be removed. Since the surgery is extensive, some patients are not fit to undergo it.

For patients who undergo the surgery, only 30 percent of them manage to stay alive after five years. Even post surgery, problems exist forcing patients to have to undergo post-operative symptoms and limitations that affect their lifestyles. Eating and swallowing problems, reflux, pain, and fatigue are some of the common symptoms.

“As this is the first study of symptom clusters in surgically treated esophageal cancer patients, further work is needed to confirm the existence of these symptom clusters in this patient population; however, the present findings do suggest that post-operative symptoms should not be considered in isolation but that clusters of symptoms must be considered,” said Dr. Anna Wikman of Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.

“It seems that patients who experience clustering of certain symptoms also have an increased mortality risk over and above the effect of other known prognostic factors. These findings suggest that it may be important to address these symptom clusters in the clinical setting in order to potentially reduce the increased mortality risk associated with them.”

The findings are published online in the journal CANCER.

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