Skip to page body Patient Care Survivorship Research Cancer Types News Giving Community Partners Clinical Trials
UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
Take the Jonsson Cancer Center Site Survey

Esophageal Cancer: Healthy Living Tips

Diarrhea

  • Avoid milk and milk products.
  • Avoid gas-producing vegetables, dried fruit, fiber cereals, seeds, popcorn, nuts, corn and dried beans.
  • Eat low-residue, low-fiber foods such as those included in the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast).
  • Drink more fluids, such as water and broth, to prevent dehydration.

Difficulty Swallowing

  • Eat slowly and chew food thoroughly. If a person shows signs of choking or difficulty breathing, the Heimlich maneuver should be performed immediately.
  • You may have an easier time swallowing liquids or pureed foods than solids. Avoid very cold or very hot foods if you notice that they worsen the problem.

Hair Loss (Alopecia)

  • Consider cutting your hair short before treatment starts.
  • Think about getting a wig, hat or scarf before your hair loss starts. That way, you can get a wig that matches your hair, and you will be ready with head coverings, if you choose to use them
  • Because your scalp may be more sensitive to temperature and sun, protect it with sunscreen and hats or scarves.

Hypercalcemia

  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Be able to control nausea and vomiting.
  • Light exercise, walking or being active.
  • Calcium in the diet should not be reduced or eliminated because the body’s absorption of calcium is reduced in patients with hypercalcemia.

Prevention of Infections

  • Keep yourself clean by bathing each day, giving extra attention to feet, groin, armpits and other moist, sweaty areas.
  • After bathing, check for redness, swelling and soreness where any tubes or catheters enter your body.
  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap after using the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands before eating and before touching your face or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth, etc.).
  • Wear shoes at all times in the hospital, outdoors and at home to avoid injury and to avoid getting extra germs on your skin.
  • If you cut or scrape your skin, clean the area right away with soap and warm water. Cover the area with a clean bandage to protect it. If the bandage gets wet or dirty, clean the injury and put on a new bandage. Tell your doctor if you notice redness, swelling, pain or tenderness.

Mouth or Lip Sores (Mucositis)

  • Use lip balm or another lip moisturizer.
  • Use a soft toothbrush and brush your teeth after eating.
  • Use mouthwash that does not contain alcohol.
  • Keep your mouth and lips clean and moist.
  • Frequently rinse your mouth with warm salt water.
  • Avoid foods that might irritate your mouth such as spicy foods, orange juice and pretzels.
  • Use sugar-free candies or gums to increase moisture in your mouth.
  • Ask your doctor about topical mouth medications.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medication, such as Tylenol, if necessary.

Nausea and Vomiting

  • Ask your doctor about getting a prescription medicine to control nausea and vomiting. Them make sure you take it as directed. If you are vomiting and cannot take the medicine, call your doctor or nurse again.
  • If you have bothersome nausea and vomiting even though you are taking your medicine, call your doctor or nurse. Your medicine can be changed.
  • Try eating foods and drinking beverages that were easy to take or made you feel better when you’ve had the flu or were nauseated from stress. These may be bland foods, sour candy, pickles, dry crackers, ginger ale, flat soda or others.
  • Do not eat fatty or fried foods. The smells from hot foods may make your nausea worse.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse if he or she can help you learn a relaxation exercise. This may make you feel less anxious and more in control and decrease your nausea.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about using acupressure bands on your wrists, which may help decrease your nausea.

Pain

  • Take pain medications regularly; do not wait for your pain to become severe (take steps to avoid constipation, a common side effect of pain medications).
  • Change your activity level. See if you feel better if you rest more or move around more – either may help.
  • Distract yourself with music, funny videos or computer games.
  • Use relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation, or guided imagery exercises. Ask your doctor or nurse where you can learn more about these.
  • Perform light exercise.

Nutrition

  • Cut down on animal fats, salt and sugar.
  • Eat at least 5 servings (combined) of fruits and vegetables daily.
  • For cooking, use olive oil, canola oil or other unhydrogenated vegetable oils.
  • Limit your intake of alcohol.
  • If you can eat, eat foods high in protein several times a day. These foods include milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, meat, fish, eggs, beans, peanut butter and nuts. Protein helps build and repair tissue, and cancer treatments cause you to use more protein then usual.
  • To maintain your weight, eat high-calorie foods, such as margarine or butter, sugar, honey, jams, jellies, cream cheese, dried fruit, gravies or sauces, mayonnaise and salad dressing.
  • Get plenty of fluids to help control your body temperature and improve food elimination. In addition to water, fruit juices, and other liquids, try gelatin, pudding, soups, fruit bars and ice cream.
  • Eat small meals throughout the day instead of 3 large ones. Keep snacks handy to eat when you are hungry.
  • Eat with friends or play your favorite music at mealtime to boost your appetite.
  • Eat your biggest meal in the morning. Many people getting treatment for cancer find that this is when their appetite is greatest.
  • If you can, increase your activity level. Doing so may boost your appetite.
  • On days you do not feel like eating at all, do not worry about it. Try again the next day. If you find your appetite does not improve in several days, talk with your doctor or nurse.
Last updated: 5/26/2010 2:39:43 PM