Our Approach to Esophageal Cancer

At Siteman, our multidisciplinary approach to esophageal cancer means that patients are are seen by an expert team of surgical, medical and radiation oncologists, often during the same visit.  A health psychologist is also available as needed.

Experienced nurses spend time with you, answering your questions and putting you in touch with resources that may help during this stressful time. These nurses can offer patient literature on your condition, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery and other related issues. Siteman has created a patient support network that can allow you to reach out to previous patients who have volunteered to share their experiences and provide advice on navigating the therapy and its predictable side-effects. As a unique feature of your care, we also offer the services of a palliative care specialist who can help you fit treatment into your own special circumstances, if needed.

Esophageal cancer specialists at Siteman are internationally recognized and treat an average of 130 esophageal patients a year. Our physicians are actively involved in clinical trials investigating new chemotherapy regimens and other approaches to cure. At Siteman, you’ll have access to new therapies that are as good as – or better than – standard therapies available elsewhere.

What is esophageal cancer?

The esophagus is the hollow muscular tube that moves food and liquid from your mouth to your stomach. Cancer may start anywhere along the esophagus. It begins in the inner layer of the lining and grows outward into the other layers. Later, it may go on to spread throughout the lymph system to other parts of the body.

The two most common forms of esophageal cancer are:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma (cancer): Cancer forms in the squamous cells of the lining, usually in the middle or upper part of the esophagus.
  • Adenocarcinoma: Cancer forms in the glandular cells that release fluids like mucus, usually in the lower part of the esophagus near the stomach.

The type of treatment you receive will depend on the stage of your cancer. Standard treatments include surgery, a combination of chemotherapy and radiation (chemoradiation) followed by surgery, or chemoradiation alone. We also offer clinical trials, esophageal stents to relieve symptoms, and laser or electrocoagulation treatment to relieve obstructive symptoms.