Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer care with advanced treatments and skilled specialists you can depend on.

Nuvance Health® Cancer Institute offers individuals with esophageal cancer advanced treatment and a team approach. You benefit from the combined skills of gastrointestinal (GI) and thoracic doctors as well as medical and surgical oncologists. Many of the doctors have a national reputation for care excellence.

What is Esophagus Cancer?

Your esophagus is the hollow muscular tube in your throat that moves food from your mouth to the stomach. Esophageal cancer occurs when abnormal cells multiply uncontrollably in the lining of the esophagus. In later stages, cancer may extend to deeper layers of the esophagus or spread to other organs.

Esophageal Cancer Care at Nuvance Health: Why Choose Us?

You receive a thorough evaluation so that your doctor can look for esophageal cancer symptoms. Our experience and team approach helps us tailor services to your needs. And you have access to leading care whether the cancer is early-stage or advanced. Your care may include these aspects of our program:

  • Team approach
    Gastrointestinal cancer specialists guide your evaluation and diagnosis in addition to delivering certain therapies. Thoracic specialists treat advanced esophagus cancer and complications. These doctors work alongside other cancer specialists in meetings called tumor boards to discuss and carefully plan your care.
  • Non-surgical options
    The GI cancer specialists use endoscopic mucosal resection for early-stage cancer. In this procedure, we slide a thin tube (endoscope) down your throat and remove the tumor while preserving the esophagus, instead of making incisions to access the cancer. Other non-surgical treatments include ablation, which scars or destroys targeted tissue to lower the risk of cancer coming back.
  • Minimally invasive approach
    The thoracic specialists use minimally invasive techniques, such as robotic and laparoscopic surgery, with eligible patients. Surgical technologies and high-definition cameras allow us to carry out procedures through small incisions and with greater precision.
  • Advanced treatment options
    Cancer symptoms or side effects of treatment may cause esophagus narrowing that make swallowing difficult. Eligible patients have access to a range of procedures, including stenting, that help the esophagus stay open. Find out more about advanced airway disease.
Esophageal Cancer Symptoms

Symptoms of esophagus cancer include:

  • Chest pain
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarse voice
  • Unexpected weight loss

Esophagus Cancer Types

The two common types of esophageal cancer include:

  1. Adenocarcinoma: the most common and forms in cells that make fluids such as mucus.
  2. Squamous cell carcinoma: occurs in flat, thin cells in the lining of the esophagus.

Diagnosing Esophageal Cancer

Tests we use to diagnose esophagus cancer include:

  • Computed tomography (CT): A CT scan takes images from different angles and special technology puts them together for a 3-D view of the esophagus.
  • Upper endoscopy and endoscopic ultrasound: An endoscope is placed down your throat to examine the lining of the esophagus and stomach. If we detect abnormal growths, instruments at the tip of the endoscope enable us to take a tissue sample (biopsy).
  • Pathology review: Pathologists evaluate the biopsy under a microscope to confirm a cancer diagnosis and determine the type. The team includes pathologists specializing in gastrointestinal issues such as cancer. Learn more about diagnosis.
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: This test uses a special dye to detect cells with abnormally high activity levels, including cancer cells. A PET scan is typically recommended for patients with esophageal cancer.

Esophagus Cancer Treatment

Our approach means you receive a personalized care plan. Treatments typically include surgical or non-surgical procedures. Additional therapies may be necessary to prepare for a procedure or lower the risk of the cancer coming back. Care also includes therapies that help you stay comfortable during treatment.

Esophagus cancer treatment includes:

  • Medical therapies: We offer chemotherapy (cancer-fighting drugs) and other options, such as targeted therapy and immunotherapy that cause fewer side effects. Find out more about chemotherapy and medication oncology.
  • Radiation therapy: This option uses intense energy to shrink cancerous growths. You may receive intensity-modulated radiation therapy, which delivers treatments that match the precise shape of the cancer. Read more about radiation therapy.
  • Surgical treatment: Esophageal resection is performed by an experienced team to remove a portion of the esophagus. Minimally invasive techniques are available for eligible patients.  
  • Supportive care: Cancer nutritionists help you maintain a healthy weight even if eating becomes painful. Social workers provide emotional support and address practical matters, which may include transportation to appointments. Explore supportive care.