Diagnosis & Treatment

Tests utilized to help diagnose esophageal cancer may include:

  • Barium esophagram
  • Chest and abdominal CAT scan
  • Endoscopic ultrasound (also sometimes used to determine the stage of disease)
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) and biopsy
  • PET scan (sometimes helpful for determining the stage of disease, and whether surgical procedures are possible)


Treatment options include:


Esophagectomy is the treatment of choice for esophageal cancer if it has not spread to distant parts of the body.  Sometimes patients require chemotherapy and radiation prior to surgery if the cancer extends deep into the esophagus or has spread to nearby nodes.  There are multiple ways to remove the esophagus including using a combination of incisions in your abdomen, chest, or neck.   In many patients, esophagectomy can be performed with the minimally invasive method (MIE)—

Instead of using the traditional larger incisions, the MIE uses tiny incisions, a camera, and small instruments to remove the esophagus.  After the esophagus is removed, a portion of the stomach is used to replace the esophagus.  Soon patients can swallow regularly again and eat as they always have.

Other treatments, which may be used to help the patient swallow include:

Chemotherapy and radiation

Radiation, chemotherapy, or both may be used for treatment as an alternative to surgery or in addition to surgery.  Both help to kill tumor cells to give the patient the best chance at curing their esophageal cancer. .


Widening of the esophagus using a scope placed through the mouth is used in certain cases as a treatment.  Often a stent is placed over the cancer to help dilate the esophagus and allow patients to eat normally.

Photodynamic therapy

Specific photo sensitive drugs are injected in to the tumor areas which are activated by light. Once the activation occurs by shining light on the tumor with a scope placed through the mouth, the medication can target the tumor.

At University Thoracic Surgeons we tailor the treatment to your needs by working with your oncologist, radiation oncologist, and family doctor.