Our Treatment Approach to Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer is often in an advanced stage when it is diagnosed, requiring rapid intervention by a group of specialists experienced in treating the disease.

The multidisciplinary team at City of Hope includes medical experts from the departments of Thoracic Surgery , Surgical Oncology , Medical Oncology , Radiation Oncology , and Plastic Surgery , as well as occupational therapists, speech pathologists, nutritionists, dentists, nurses and social workers.

Working together, our team has developed a treatment approach tailored to the patient that is achieving outstanding results.

Surgery to remove affected tissue is often part of a patient’s treatment plan. At City of Hope, specialty trained surgeons in chest surgery, ear, nose and throat, surgical oncology, and plastic and reconstructive surgery are experienced in procedures that offer patients excellent long-term survival rates.

Many different surgical procedures are used in treating esophageal cancer. A surgeon will discuss the best options. Sometimes, surgery is needed to relieve difficulty in swallowing. Certain patients may require an esophagectomy, the surgical removal of all or part of the esophagus, as well as part of the stomach, and reconnecting them.


Chemotherapy – the use of anticancer medicines – includes a wide range of drugs and treatment strategies to treat primary and metastatic esophageal cancer. City of Hope provides both standard chemotherapies as well as access to newly developed drugs through an extensive program of clinical trials.

As part of the treatment team, a medical oncologist will evaluate the best options, so that a course of chemotherapy, if appropriate, can be tailored to the patient.

Currently, researchers at City of Hope are testing new “neoadjuvant” strategies in which drugs are given prior to surgery to shrink esophageal cancers.

Radiation therapy uses energy beams to kill cancer cells. Specialists in the Department of Radiation Oncology have developed highly accurate new treatments that maximize the delivery of radiation to malignant cells while minimizing unnecessary exposure of healthy tissues. Therapeutic procedures include: