What treatments are available for cancer of the esophagus?


Quick Answer

Esophageal cancer can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and a combination of chemotherapy and radiation, as explained by Mayo Clinic. The treatment approach depends on the type of cells involved, the stage of the cancer and the overall health of the patient.

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Full Answer

Small and early cancers of the esophagus can be treated surgically with an endoscope, which the doctor uses to remove the tumor and a margin of healthy surrounding tissue, according to Mayo Clinic. A more extensive surgical procedure is an esophagectomy, in which the surgeon removes a portion of the esophagus and the surrounding lymph nodes. The upper portion of the esophagus is then reattached to the stomach.

Sometimes the surgeon has to perform an esophagogastrectomy, which is a procedure that removes part of the esophagus, lymph nodes and the upper portion of the stomach, as explained by Mayo Clinic. After removal, the surgeon reconnects the upper part of the remaining esophagus to the remaining portion of the stomach.

Chemotherapy may be used before or after surgery and is sometimes administered to relieve symptoms in patients with cancer that has spread beyond the esophagus, according to Mayo Clinic. Radiation therapy uses high beams of radiation to kill cancer cells and can be used internally as brachytherapy or externally with external beam radiation.

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