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Recover more quickly

Get Well Soon

Helping you make a speedy recovery after surgery to remove a cancer of the gullet or upper stomach

Things that will help you recover more quickly

Stop smoking

The single most important thing you can do to give yourself the best chance of recovery is to stop smoking – right now. One of the commonest complications after this operation is the development of a chest infection. Patients who smoke right up to the day before their operation have more respiratory problems after chest surgery. Free expert help is available on the NHS to help you stop smoking – ask your nurse or GP, or visit the NHS Stop Smoking Service website.

Eat healthily

A healthy balanced diet containing a variety of foods, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, will help to ensure that your body has all of the nutrients it needs to heal. Follow the advice given to you by your surgeon and their team. You may also see a dietician who will advise you on eating after oesophagectomy.

Family and friends

Family and friends can give you two important things:

  • Practical help with the tasks you might temporarily be unable to do while you recover – such as driving, the weekly shop, or lifting heavier items.
  • Keeping your spirits up – the novelty soon wears off being home alone all day, and it’s easy to feel isolated. Having company can help you worry less. It’s important not to let anxiety set in, as it can become a problem in itself, and stands in the way of getting back to your normal routine.

Keep a routine

Get up at your normal time in the morning, get dressed, move about the house. You will get tired, but you can build in an afternoon’s rest into your routine.


It is important to continue your breathing and coughing exercises and the exercises to prevent poor posture. In addition, steady exercise, particularly walking, is ideal.

Build up gradually

Have a go at doing some of the things you would normally do, but build up gradually. Some suggestions are included in the recovery tracker. Obviously, everyone recovers at different speeds, so not all of the suggestions will be suitable for everybody.

When you’re building up your activities, you may feel more tired than normal. If so, stop for a while, and rest until your strength returns. If you feel pain, you’ve probably overdone it a little. Ease back on your activities and then gradually increase them again. If you are concerned about anything, speak to your allocated contact, or a member of the surgical team; later you can always consult your GP.

Don’t sleep in – you can always rest later. Sleeping in will alter your sleep pattern and may make it difficult for you to get to sleep at night. If you live alone, and you do not have family or friends close by, organise support in advance – you will need somebody around for the first 2 weeks after surgery.


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