Treatment options for cancer of the esophagus.

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Doctor examining a female patient's neck

Getting started

Your treatment begins with your Legacy Cancer Institute doctor recommending a plan based on expert guidelines, called protocols. Your treatment is determined by:

  • The type of tumor
  • The location of the tumor
  • The extent of the disease, called the stage
  • Any tests you have had during diagnosis
  • A discussion about what is right for you

Unfortunately, it is difficult to detect early signs or symptoms of esophageal cancer. Sometimes it isn’t caught until it is advanced, and symptoms are present. At later stages, the focus of treatment is controlling the cancer.

Esophageal cancer treatment options

There are several types of treatment for esophageal cancer, and many people undergo a combination of treatments.

  • Surgery is the most common treatment. An esophagectomy is the removal of the majority of the esophagus. The surgeon can connect the remaining part to the stomach so you can still swallow. Lymph nodes are removed and checked under the microscope for cancer. If the tumor blocks the esophagus, a stent (a special small tube) may be used to keep it open, in combination with other treatments.
  • Radiation uses high-energy X-rays or other radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing.
  • Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells throughout the body.

Talk to your doctor about these and other options for treating esophageal cancer. Researchers are discovering new therapies for treating cancer all the time, giving doctors new resources for your care. 



What happens next

Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy can cause challenging side effects. Your cancer team is dedicated to helping you manage these side effects in the best ways possible. Comfort care can treat symptoms to help improve your quality of life; this is also called palliative care.
If you have difficulty swallowing while you recover, your team can help find alternative ways for you to receive nutrition. You may meet with a speech and language therapist who can help you with recovery from your cancer treatment.

To see how well your treatment is working, some of the tests used to diagnose and stage your cancer may be repeated. Your doctor uses these tests to decide whether to stop, change or continue treatment based on the results. These tests can also determine if cancer has returned. Whenever possible, we work to stop the growth of cancer and reduce the chance of cancer coming back.  

Working together for you

Our cancer experts work together with a common goal: delivering the right care for you.

A range of specialists collaborate regularly in meetings called tumor boards to discuss the best plan for your care. Your treatment plan is made just for you, depending on your general health, your age, your particular cancer and its growth.


More support

You are not alone. Legacy offers support throughout your cancer journey, as well as care for your emotional, social and spiritual needs.

Nurse navigators
Legacy Cancer Healing Center 
Support groups and classes
Cancer rehabilitation 
Survivorship services