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Esophageal Obstruction ...


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Picking brains again! My partner's adenosquamous carcinoma is currently stable but the thing had been growing along the stomach to the extent that it has been causing pressure on the esophageal tube. This, naturally, has caused a gagging reflex when she tries to eat or drink and she has to wait until this clears before she can carry on (sometimes 15-20 minutes or so). Question:- given that her consultant did not like the idea of a metal stent to expand the tube (due to the possibility of it getting 'lost' inside the stomach) and has not suggested anything else to alleviate this discomfort, has anyone else any ideas or experiences please?

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Hi Emcee good to hear from you again.

No doubt your partner has tried the 'home spun' methods of dealing with this, cutting food into smaller pieces, chewing longer, avoiding meat and bread (which often get stuck) etc, so I won't dwell on those here.

Many people find that food of a certain consistency will 'go down', sometimes that's liquid, sometimes a pudding or porridge consistency, but texture is so important to enjoying food that I'm reluctant to suggest that your partner restricts her diet in this way. There are two other medical procedures which might help:

1. Dilation (expansion) of the esophagus. This is achieved by inserting a medical type of balloon into the esophageal tube which is then inflated to stretch the esophagus, widening the opening and thus allowing food to pass. The difficulty here is that (a) the pressure might have an adverse effect on the tumour and (b) the esophagus can only be stretched so far and if the tumour grows again the problem will recur so it's only a temorary solution;

2. A laser can be used to burn away part of the tumour, thus reducing the blockage.

Obviously both involve fairly significant operations and it may be the consultants don't think this advisable for your partner but it's something you can explore with them.

There are certain swallowing techniques which assist in moving food down to the stomach. I don't want to suggest any in particular because they may not be the correct ones for the specific problem your partner has (there are different techniques for different parts of the swallowing process) but again this is something you can take up with the medical team.

I have to say I'm not an expert in this area but I hope that gives you a starting point to discuss this with the clinic/doctors and do let us know how your partner gets on.

Take care


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Thanks so much Nicky and Penny. Those two answers are just the sort of thing you need in this battle. As this wretched disease really does place sufferers in the lap of the gods, the only thing the rest of us can do for them is be a 'runner' in terms of research and/or rescue/comfort remedies and you've helped me to do just that. Thank you again.

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