Director Huang Wenjie reminded that during the treatment period, cancer patients must pay attention to their fatigue status to avoid affecting the course of treatment.

(file photo)

[Reporter Wu Liangyi/Taipei Report] A woman in her 60s had persistent chest tightness and weight loss for more than a year. She was diagnosed with stage 2 esophageal cancer. She lost 16 kilograms and her "cancer fatigue" index had reached a moderate to severe level. She was unable to survive the chemotherapy and radiotherapy course, and was combined with drugs for cancer-related exhaustion. She finally successfully completed the chemotherapy and radiotherapy and surgery, and the tumor completely disappeared.

In 2019, the total number of esophageal cancer cases was 2,656, and 2,491 men accounted for more than 90%. Esophageal cancer ranks sixth in the incidence of male cancer. Although it can be said to be "a cancer exclusively for men", women should not be ignored.

The doctor reminds that if you have a long-term hoarse throat, difficulty swallowing, or inexplicable weight loss, you should be alert and receive an examination in advance.

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Esophageal cancer is mainly divided into squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma, and more than 90% of Taiwanese patients are squamous cell carcinoma.

Huang Wenjie, deputy director of the Department of Surgery and director of thoracic surgery at Mackay Hospital, explained that the main cause of esophageal cancer is bad living habits, including smoking, betel nut, excessive drinking, frequent consumption of high-temperature or hot food, pickles, smoked barbecued processed meat, etc. These can irritate the mucous membrane of the esophagus and increase the risk of cancer.

"Almost all cancers are silent killers," said Huang Wenjie. For example, in the early stage of esophageal cancer, when the tumor forms in the esophagus, there will be no pain, and the small size has not affected swallowing, making it difficult for patients to detect; as the tumor volume increases, Symptoms such as dysphagia and hoarseness gradually appeared, and at this time, it often deteriorated to stage 2 or more of esophageal cancer.

To prevent esophageal cancer, the first thing is to change bad habits, but if you are unfortunate enough to get cancer, early detection is also a blessing.

Huang Wenjie suggested that "esophagoscopy" can be added to the gastroscope during the health check, which is helpful for early detection and early treatment.

Esophageal cancer before stage 1 is small in size and has not spread, and will be treated by surgical resection. If stage 2 or above, chemotherapy and radiotherapy will be performed before surgery. Huang Wenjie's clinical observation shows that most patients will experience cancer-related fatigue when receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy. (CRF), and esophageal cancer patients are often malnourished, and they are easily overwhelmed by the physical strength of the treatment, which in turn affects the effect or even terminates the treatment.

The 60-year-old woman surnamed Xu has a long-term habit of drinking alcohol, but she always felt uncomfortable in her chest for more than a year. The index has reached 6 points, which belongs to the moderate to severe degree recommended for drug treatment.

Huang Wenjie combined chemotherapy and radiotherapy for the woman with prescription drugs for cancer-related exhaustion, which finally allowed her to survive the entire course of treatment. Even during the treatment, she still had the strength to cook a happy dinner for her family.

The "Clinical Treatment Guidelines for Cancer-related Exhaustion" written by the Taiwan Cancer Palliative Medicine Association and the Taiwan Cancer Nursing Association details the assessment and treatment of cancer-related exhaustion.

(Provided by Taiwan Cancer Palliative Medicine Association)

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  • chest tightness

  • Esophageal cancer

  • squamous cell carcinoma

  • esophagoscope

  • cancer-related exhaustion

  • weight loss

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