Esophageal Diseases


Esophageal Diseases

State-of-the-art therapies for a challenging cancer

Esophageal Cancer

Advanced Cancer Care

At New York-Presbyterian, your healthcare team works to ensure that you receive the latest comprehensive care for esophageal cancer in a compassionate and comfortable setting. We specialize in the treatment of esophageal cancer using a combination of interventional endoscopy, minimally invasive surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and precision radiation therapy. Our goal is to provide the best possible treatment for your cancer.

Causes of esophageal cancer

The cause of esophageal cancer is not always known. Some of the known risk factors include:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Barrett's esophagus
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Obesity
  • Family history of esophageal cancer

Types of esophageal cancer

There are two main types of esophageal cancer. Your treatment will depend on the type of esophageal cancer you have. • Adenocarcinoma, the most common type in the United States, most often arises in the lower esophagus • Squamous cell carcinoma, the most common type worldwide, most commonly develops in the middle to upper part of the esophagus

Esophageal Cancer Signs & Symptoms

In its early stages, esophageal cancer may not cause any symptoms. As it grows, it may cause:

  • Trouble swallowing
  • Change in your previous heartburn symptoms
  • Chest pain with swallowing
  • Vomiting or regurgitation of food
  • Unexplained anemia
  • Blood in stool
  • Unexplained weight loss

Advanced Endoscopy for Esophageal Cancer

NewYork-Presbyterian is home to one of the most comprehensive interventional endoscopy programs in our region, often enabling us to screen, diagnose, and treat esophageal cancers less invasively. Some of our approaches include:

  • Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS). EUS involves the use of a special endoscope with high-energy sound waves ("echoendoscope") to visualize your digestive tract and nearby organs.
  • Endoscopic tissue removal. Our interventional endoscopists perform both endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) and endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD) to remove cancerous esophageal tissue of various shapes and depths.
  • Radiofrequency ablation (RFA). We treat very early-stage esophageal cancers with intense heat from radio waves that destroy the tumor.
  • Cryotherapy. Extremely cold temperatures can also be applied to treat superficial cancers of the esophagus that cannot be removed through other means and to control bleeding from esophageal tumors in some people.
  • Esophageal stent. People with blockages in the esophagus can have a stent (a mesh tube) inserted to widen the esophageal opening so they may be able to eat solid foods.

Our Approach to Care

Our thoracic surgeons, gastroenterologists, interventional endoscopists, medical and radiation oncologists, nurses, swallowing therapists, registered dietitians, and other specialists are known for providing leading medical, surgical, and supportive care for people with esophageal cancer. We will put together a team of healthcare professionals to provide the care you need.

To support your quality of life, we offer palliative care, which includes services such as pain management. Our nutritionists, social workers, palliative care experts, and others will help you and your loved ones address the effects of cancer and its treatment — physical, emotional, and spiritual. We understand the burden cancer can place on your life and the lives of your loved ones, and our ultimate goal is to lessen that burden.

Esophageal cancer treatments

When planning your treatment, our physicians consider the type, location, and stage of your cancer, as well as your age and physical health.

Minimally invasive surgery — such as laparoscopy or video-assisted thoracoscopy (VATS) — may be appropriate for some early-stage esophageal cancers. Scopes placed through small incisions in the chest and abdomen are used to visualize, grasp, and remove diseased esophageal tissue and surrounding lymph nodes. Our thoracic surgeons have decades of experience performing more extensive esophageal cancer operations when less invasive approaches are impossible.

Chemotherapy used before surgery can shrink some tumors, increasing the likelihood of completely removing the tumor in some patients during surgery and improving the chance of a cure. After surgery, chemotherapy can help kill any remaining cancer cells and is sometimes used in combination with radiation therapy.

Immunotherapy is an option for some patients with advanced cancer of the esophagus. It works by boosting the ability of the immune system to detect and destroy cancer cells.

Radiation therapy may be used before or after surgery or to relieve symptoms, such as an inability to swallow solid foods. We use 3D imaging to shape and target high doses of radiation directly to your tumor, killing cancer cells while sparing nearby healthy tissue. Our radiation oncologists offer sophisticated treatments for esophageal cancer, including the placement of small catheters threaded to the site of your tumor to deliver a high, pinpointed dose of radiation.

Why Choose Us

The treatment of esophageal cancer can be complicated and requires a team approach, such as that taken by the coordinated teams at NewYork-Presbyterian. You can receive all of the tests and treatments you need through one medical center, including technologies not widely available elsewhere. Columbia University and Weill Cornell Medicine researchers are also directing clinical trials of novel treatment approaches for esophageal cancer. Your treatment team will let you know if you can receive a promising new therapy by participating in a clinical trial. Contact us today to learn what we can do for you.

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NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Division of Digestive and Liver Disease

NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center

Gastroenterology and Hepatology

NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center

Gastroesophageal Reflux and Motility Disorders Center