Esophageal Cancer

We use latest techniques to diagnose and treat your cancer

Esophagus cancer (also called esophageal cancer) occurs when you have abnormal cell growth inside your esophagus.

Esophageal cancer starts in the inner layer of your esophagus, called the mucosa, and grows out through to the muscle layer. We use the latest techniques to diagnose and treat esophageal cancer.

OverviewSlice

Esophageal Cancer Symptoms

Symptoms of esophageal cancer include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Feeling like food gets stuck in your throat
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Coughing or hoarseness

If you experience these symptoms, you should speak to your primary care physician. By diagnosing cancer as early as possible, you have more treatment options.

Esophageal Cancer Risk Factors

Risk factors for esophageal cancer include:

  • Barrett’s esophagus
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) 
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption

In order to reduce your risk for esophageal cancer, stop smoking, reduce your alcohol consumption and eat a healthy diet. In the past, mainly smoking and alcohol caused esophageal cancer. Today, acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), leads the way as the main cause. Acid reflux causes four times as many cases of esophageal cancer as smoking and alcohol. You should work with your primary care physician or a gastroenterologist to control GERD.

Overview

Esophageal Cancer Symptoms

Symptoms of esophageal cancer include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Feeling like food gets stuck in your throat
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Coughing or hoarseness

If you experience these symptoms, you should speak to your primary care physician. By diagnosing cancer as early as possible, you have more treatment options.

Esophageal Cancer Risk Factors

Risk factors for esophageal cancer include:

  • Barrett’s esophagus
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) 
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption

In order to reduce your risk for esophageal cancer, stop smoking, reduce your alcohol consumption and eat a healthy diet. In the past, mainly smoking and alcohol caused esophageal cancer. Today, acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), leads the way as the main cause. Acid reflux causes four times as many cases of esophageal cancer as smoking and alcohol. You should work with your primary care physician or a gastroenterologist to control GERD.

TreatmentSlice

We offer comprehensive treatments so you can receive all the care you need. You will receive multidisciplinary care from a team of expert healthcare professionals, including:

  • Surgical oncologists
  • Medical oncologists
  • Radiation oncologists
  • Gastroenterologists
  • Dietitians
  • Speech language pathologists
  • Radiologists
  • Pathologists
  • Social workers
  • Chaplains

Your cancer care team works with you to develop a personalized treatment plan so you receive the treatment and support you need in your fight against esophageal cancer.

Because esophageal cancer is less common, you should seek care from a specialized cancer center. The IU Health Simon Cancer Center has physicians experienced in esophageal cancer treatment. Depending on your care plan, your treatments may include one or more of the following options:

  • Surgery. Physicians most often perform esophagectomy to treat esophageal cancer. This delicate and complicated procedure removes most of the esophagus and connects the stomach higher up along the tube. Experienced surgeons at the IU Health Simon Cancer Center perform a large number of esophagectomies each year. Patients from across Indiana and the Midwest come to Indiana University Health for these procedures. Our expert physicians have written several peer-reviewed publications about the procedure, helping other physicians to better understand the benefits and techniques of the procedure. We also offer other options for patients who cannot undergo esophagectomies. Our gastroenterologists are among the most experienced physicians in the world at performing endoscopic mucosal resections. During this minimally invasive procedure, physicians remove only small sections of the mucosal layers of the esophagus affected by cancer while leaving the rest of the esophagus intact.
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Clinical trials. At the IU Health Simon Cancer Center, we give you the latest treatment options through clinical trials. Clinical trials most often involve medicines that assist in cancer treatment. Researchers at IU Health Simon Cancer Center, in collaboration with researchers at Purdue University, also test new imaging techniques to determine the effectiveness of treatment.

Treatment

We offer comprehensive treatments so you can receive all the care you need. You will receive multidisciplinary care from a team of expert healthcare professionals, including:

  • Surgical oncologists
  • Medical oncologists
  • Radiation oncologists
  • Gastroenterologists
  • Dietitians
  • Speech language pathologists
  • Radiologists
  • Pathologists
  • Social workers
  • Chaplains

Your cancer care team works with you to develop a personalized treatment plan so you receive the treatment and support you need in your fight against esophageal cancer.

Because esophageal cancer is less common, you should seek care from a specialized cancer center. The IU Health Simon Cancer Center has physicians experienced in esophageal cancer treatment. Depending on your care plan, your treatments may include one or more of the following options:

  • Surgery. Physicians most often perform esophagectomy to treat esophageal cancer. This delicate and complicated procedure removes most of the esophagus and connects the stomach higher up along the tube. Experienced surgeons at the IU Health Simon Cancer Center perform a large number of esophagectomies each year. Patients from across Indiana and the Midwest come to Indiana University Health for these procedures. Our expert physicians have written several peer-reviewed publications about the procedure, helping other physicians to better understand the benefits and techniques of the procedure. We also offer other options for patients who cannot undergo esophagectomies. Our gastroenterologists are among the most experienced physicians in the world at performing endoscopic mucosal resections. During this minimally invasive procedure, physicians remove only small sections of the mucosal layers of the esophagus affected by cancer while leaving the rest of the esophagus intact.
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Clinical trials. At the IU Health Simon Cancer Center, we give you the latest treatment options through clinical trials. Clinical trials most often involve medicines that assist in cancer treatment. Researchers at IU Health Simon Cancer Center, in collaboration with researchers at Purdue University, also test new imaging techniques to determine the effectiveness of treatment.

Support ServicesSlice

We provide additional support services, such as psychosocial support and palliative care, to help you and your family through the difficulties of cancer treatment. After treatment, we can connect you with an IU Health speech-language pathologist who can help you regain your ability to swallow. An IU Health dietitian can help you make dietary choices that reduce your risk for future acid reflux. We strive to improve your quality of life through every stage of treatment.

Resources

Find information and resources on the following external websites:

  • Medline Plus: MedlinePlus is the National Institutes of Health's Web site for patients and their families and friends produced by the National Library of Medicine, the world’s largest medical library. 
  • NIH National Cancer Institute: This is the central website for the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the U.S. government’s main agency for cancer research. 

Support Services

We provide additional support services, such as psychosocial support and palliative care, to help you and your family through the difficulties of cancer treatment. After treatment, we can connect you with an IU Health speech-language pathologist who can help you regain your ability to swallow. An IU Health dietitian can help you make dietary choices that reduce your risk for future acid reflux. We strive to improve your quality of life through every stage of treatment.

Resources

Find information and resources on the following external websites:

  • Medline Plus: MedlinePlus is the National Institutes of Health's Web site for patients and their families and friends produced by the National Library of Medicine, the world’s largest medical library. 
  • NIH National Cancer Institute: This is the central website for the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the U.S. government’s main agency for cancer research. 

Patient Stories for Esophageal CancerSlice

Patient Stories for Esophageal Cancer

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