Our Surgical Expertise
A majority of patients with esophageal cancer require some form of surgery. The Levine Cancer Institute has been a pioneer in minimally-invasive surgery in treating esophageal cancer. This approach is much less invasive and allows for a quicker recovery. Our surgeons are often able to completely remove tumors with an esophagogastrectomy or esophagectomy (part of the esophagus and stomach are removed along with nearby lymph nodes). This involves removing part of the esophagus and bringing the stomach up to join the end of the esophagus. Patients with more advanced cancers are offered chemotherapy and radiation first to shrink the tumor and increase the likelihood for a successful surgery.
A feeding tube can be placed prior to surgery if needed. Often times, it becomes difficult to swallow depending on the degree of the cancer. All patients will have a feeding tube after surgery to allow the esophagus to heal and rest until food is tolerated.
When a tumor cannot be surgically removed, our doctors use methods such as chemotherapy. Other treatments localized at the tumor site such as a stent can be used to keep the esophagus open. A feeding tube also can be inserted temporarily in order to get nutrients.
For patients with esophageal cancer, we offer combined-modality treatments using chemotherapy plus radiation therapy (known as chemoradiation) followed by surgery. For patients with more advanced disease, chemotherapy and radiation therapy is usually the primary treatment.
Our doctors continue to evaluate new chemotherapy agents and drug combinations to treat patients with esophageal cancer. Chemotherapy may be given before surgery (in a process known as neoadjuvant therapy) to shrink the tumor (usually in combination with radiation therapy), or it may be given after surgery (known as adjuvant therapy) in an attempt to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. When given alone or in combination with radiation therapy, chemotherapy also may help relieve symptoms related to esophageal cancer.
The Levine Cancer Institute has a bi-monthly multispecialty GI Tumor Planning Conference for treatment planning. A group of physicians including surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, gastroenterologists, and radiologists meet to discuss various recommendations regarding patient outcomes and what the best plan of care would be.
For more information on our Esophageal Cancer program, call 980-442-2000 or 800-804-9376.