Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer is a type of gastrointestinal (GI) cancer. Cancer cells form in the tissues of the esophagus, the hollow, muscular tube that moves food and liquid from the throat to the stomach (“food pipe”).

Detection And Prevention

Esophageal cancer occurs mostly in people older than 55. It’s two to three times more common in men than in women. Your risk may be greater if you have a condition that irritates the lining of the esophagus, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD, also called reflux) and Barrett’s esophagus, or if the esophagus has been injured. Obesity and use of tobacco and alcohol may also increase the risk.

You can help to prevent esophageal cancer by avoiding tobacco and alcohol, watching your diet and body weight, and getting treated for reflux or Barrett’s esophagus. Currently there is no screening test for esophageal cancer for people with no symptoms.

Diagnosis

These and other signs and symptoms may be caused by esophageal cancer or by other conditions. Check with your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Trouble swallowing
  • Pain or discomfort in the middle part of the chest
  • Weight loss for no known reason
  • Hoarseness and cough
  • Indigestion and heartburn
  • A lump under the skin

After taking a complete history and performing a physical examination, your doctor may order tests to look for esophageal cancer.

Treatment

We’ll consider the type, size, and stage of your esophageal cancer, plus your age and overall health, to recommend one or more of the following treatment strategies:

  • Surgery to remove the primary (main) tumor
  • Chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy to kill or stop the growth or spread of cancer cells
  • Chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy to prevent or delay your cancer's return
  • Symptom management for pain or other cancer-related symptoms

At Premier Health, our surgical oncologists work together with thoracic surgeons in a specialized surgical team to remove tumors on the esophagus. Your surgical team may perform traditional or minimally invasive (robotic-assisted) surgery. They remove the lower portion of the esophagus and the upper portion of the stomach, then make a tube of the remaining stomach that connects to the remaining esophagus. It’s not uncommon to need a feeding tube after esophageal cancer surgery, but it is generally temporary until the esophagus heals.

Keeping You Safe During COVID-19

You will find new safety measures in place when you schedule appointments and come to our facilities — all with the goal of keeping you safe as we care for you.

Contact Us

Our cancer team is here for you. Our cancer specialists have access to nationally recognized cancer care protocols and best practices, since Premier Health is a certified member of MD Anderson Cancer Network®, a program of MD Anderson Cancer Center. Our patients benefit from advanced local care backed by the world-renowned expertise of the nation’s leading cancer center. 

Call the Premier Health cancer hotline at (844) 316-HOPE(844) 316-4673 (4673), Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., to connect with a Premier Health cancer navigator.