Esophageal Cancer

Treatment for cancer of the esophagus at Scripps

Scripps Health offers options for the treatment of esophageal cancer.

Treatment for cancer of the esophagus at Scripps

If you or a loved one faces esophageal cancer, Scripps Health in San Diego offers access to physicians and clinicians with expertise in diagnosing and staging the disease, using the most advanced technologies and cancer fighting therapies.

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We’re fighting cancer with you

At Scripps Health, our multidisciplinary teams partner with patients to treat cancer with the latest surgical procedures, state-of-the-art radiation therapy and chemotherapy. We have physicians in premier facilities throughout San Diego County who are ready to take on cancer and care for patients.

U.S. News & World Report ranked Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla and Scripps Green Hospital among the best in the nation for gastroenterology and gastrointestinal surgery.

Detection and diagnosis of esophageal cancer

Tests and procedures used to diagnose esophageal cancer can include a physical exam, chest X-ray, barium swallow and review of family history, as well as one or more of the following:

  • Esophagoscopy is a procedure in which an endoscope — a hollow tube with a lens — is inserted in the throat and into the esophagus.
  • Biopsy is the collection of a small part of the suspicious tissue for testing and further examination in the lab by a pathologist.
  • CT scan is a form of X-ray imaging test that captures images of the body from different angles. The images are combined to detailed cross-sectional views of organs, bones and blood vessels.
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan uses a glucose that contains a radioactive substance (called a “tracer”) to look for cancer. Cancer cells absorb large amounts of radioactive sugar, so if cancer is present in other areas of the body, it can appear as areas of higher radioactivity that are captured with a special camera. A PET scan is combined with a CT scan, which can assist with early diagnosis, disease staging and localization, surgery and treatment planning.

Esophageal cancer treatment

Treatment plans are dependent on the stage of cancer, patient health and other factors. Treatment options include:

Esophageal cancer surgery

  • Esophagectomy is the removal of part of the esophagus and nearby lymph nodes. The remaining esophagus is reattached to the stomach.
  • Esophagogastrectomy involves the removal of part of the esophagus, upper portion of the stomach and nearby lymph nodes. The remaining esophagus is reattached to the stomach, and part of the colon may be used to help bridge them.

Very early stage esophageal cancer, which is limited to small tumors in the superficial layers of the esophagus, often can be removed by surgeons while performing an esophagoscopy without need for an open surgery or minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery.

Radiation therapy for esophageal cancer

Scripps has the most comprehensive radiation therapy offerings in San Diego for esophageal cancer.

Chemotherapy and chemoradiotherapy

Chemotherapy is often combined with radiation therapy for treatment of esophageal cancer before a surgery or when a patient is not a candidate for surgery. Combining chemotherapy and radiation therapy is known as chemoradiotherapy. Be sure to discuss your options with your physician.

Support services

To enhance the care of people with esophageal cancer, Scripps Health also offers the following services: