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Surgery for esophageal cancer

surgical oncology

What is surgery?

Surgery is used to diagnose, stage and treat cancer, and to manage certain cancer-related symptoms. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our experienced surgeons have performed thousands of procedures and will discuss the surgical options that are best suited to your individual needs.

Whether a patient is a candidate for surgery or not depends on factors such as the type, size, location, grade and stage of the tumor, as well as general health factors such as age, physical fitness and other coexisting medical conditions the patient may have.

For many patients, surgery will be combined with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormone therapy. These nonsurgical treatments may be administered before surgery (neoadjuvant therapy) or after surgery (adjuvant therapy) to help prevent cancer growth, spread or recurrence.

Early in the treatment planning process, we plan for and proactively manage anticipated side effects from surgery. Our nutritionists, rehabilitation therapists and naturopathic clinicians work together with your surgical oncologist to support healing and quality of life. Our reconstructive surgeons perform procedures to restore the body's appearance and function when needed, at the time of surgery or following surgery.

Surgical oncology

Video: Surgical Oncology

Surgical Oncology

Esophageal cancer surgeries

Surgery for esophageal cancer

Surgery is the preferred procedure to treat early-stage adenocarcinoma. Your surgical oncologist will perform surgery to treat stage I and stage II esophageal cancer. For later-stage esophageal cancer, we combine other forms of treatment, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy. These treatments may be used to shrink the tumor before surgery can be reconsidered. If cancer is found in the esophagus, nearby lymph nodes are also removed during surgery to test for the presence of cancer.

Squamous cell carcinoma cannot be treated with esophageal cancer surgery. At CTCA, we offer a variety of procedures such as chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy for this type of esophageal cancer.

Types of surgical procedures used to treat esophageal cancer include:

Open esophagectomy

During an open esophagectomy, your surgical oncologist removes some or all of the esophagus, depending on the stage of the tumor. During this type of cancer surgery, your oncologist may make incisions in the abdomen and chest or abdomen and neck. In some cases incisions may be made in all three of these areas. The placement of incisions depends on the location of the cancer.

Minimally invasive esophagectomy

If the affected area is small, a minimally invasive esophagectomy may be performed instead of an open esophagectomy. This procedure is performed by making a few small incisions instead of one or two larger incisions. During this type of surgery for esophageal cancer, your surgical oncologist uses a laparoscope (long tube with small camera attached to the end) to help guide removal of the esophagus. Once part or the entire esophagus is removed, the remaining esophagus will be connected. If the entire lower portion of the esophagus is removed, the remaining esophagus will be connected to the stomach.

Endoscopic mucosal resection

We perform endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR), a minimally invasive procedure, to remove very early stage cancer in the esophagus. In some cases, it can be used during the diagnosis process. During an EMR, a thin tube (endoscope) is inserted down the throat. The endoscope will have instruments attached to the end that will remove the tumor.

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