The esophagus is involved in one of the most fundamental aspects of life: eating. Recognizing the importance of the esophagus, we are actively engaged in searching for new treatment options for esophageal cancer. Every treatment was once a clinical trial and we constantly lead new clinical trials – finding new ways to do the most good for you, with as few side effects as possible.
Esophageal Cancer At A Glance
Signs of esophageal cancer are usually related to swallowing or eating. This can include pain or choking while swallowing, vomiting, food sticking, indigestion, heartburn, coughing or hoarseness, or a burning sensation in your chest, breastbone, or throat.
Steps to Diagnosis
If your primary care physician suspects you have an obstruction or swallowing problems, you may be referred to a gastrointestinal specialist. If subsequently they find an esophageal cancer on an endoscopy, they could refer you to a medical oncologist or an esophageal/chest surgeon. Testing may include a barium swallow, endoscopy, or biopsy.
There are two main types of esophageal cancer – squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. African Americans are twice as likely to develop the squamous cell type, and men are 3-4 times more likely to develop esophageal cancer than women.
Avoiding tobacco or heavy alcohol use goes a long way towards lowering the risk of esophageal cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight, active lifestyle, and a healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, can also lower your overall risk.
Treatment options may include:
Surgical procedures may be used to provide relief from side effects, remove cancerous cells, or assist with swallowing.
Intravenous and/or oral medication that attacks and kills cancer cells in the body. Many patients maintain normal activities during treatments.
High-powered energy beams, such as X-rays, are used to kill cancer cells directly.
Therapy focused on blocking the growth and spread of cancer cells by targeting the specific genes, proteins, or tissue affected by cancer.
Intravenous medication that stimulates your immune system, by helping it recognize and destroy cancer cells.
A cancer diagnosis in the esophagus can be particularly unsettling, due to its involvement in so many essential life functions. Because cancer is personal to us, we’re inspired each and every day to do more. That starts by using precision medicine to relieve symptoms and personalize each patient’s care, right down to your DNA.
Our interdisciplinary team considers the right care plan from multiple perspectives, often consulting with other experts to gather up-to-the-moment insight on treatment options.
Then, your course of treatment will be designed to suit your exact medical needs to do the most good, while remaining minimally invasive. That means we’re focused not just on eradicating the disease, but on preserving your quality of life before, during, and after your treatment.
We are here to help you heal as a whole person. Wherever your care path leads, you can be sure our entire team will be there with you every step of the way.
“I always tell patients that it’s not me alone taking care of your cancer. There’s a whole team who talks to each other all the time. We’re streamlined… often everyone works on the same floor.”Mital Patel, MD
Please contact us to for more information about other cancers and conditions we treat including:
- Transanal Surgery
- Small Bowel
- Colon/Large Bowel
- Anal – Perianal Skin Cancer or Dysplasia
- GIST (GI Stromal Tumor)
Wherever your individual care plan takes you, we’ll work closely with you to understand your preferences, and your needs – and be sure any additional support is ready when you need it, including:
- Dietary or nutrition advisors, providing special focus and attention for chemo patients
- Genetic counselors to help you understand your risk factors
- Social workers dedicated to easing your emotional burdens and helping with community benefits
- Financial counselors to help you understand the financial aspect and work with you to reduce the burden when possible
- Specialty pharmacy liaisons who help authorize your prescriptions and educate you on managing side effects and taking your medicine properly
- Nurse navigators to help guide you throughout the cancer institute, every step of the way
- Physical and rehabilitation therapists who provide integrated care alongside your primary care plan