- How is cancer of the esophagus treated?
- Surgery for cancer of the esophagus
- Radiation therapy for cancer of the esophagus
- Chemotherapy for cancer of the esophagus
- Targeted therapy for cancer of the esophagus
- Endoscopic treatments for cancer of the esophagus
- Clinical trials for cancer of the esophagus
- Complementary and alternative therapies for cancer of the esophagus
- Treating cancer of the esophagus by stage
- Recurrent cancer of the esophagus
- Palliative therapy for cancer of the esophagus
- More treatment information about cancer of the esophagus
How is cancer of the esophagus treated?
General treatment information
After the cancer is found and staged, the cancer care team will discuss a treatment plan or treatment options with you. It is important that you take time to think about all of the choices. In selecting a treatment plan, the 2 main factors to consider are your overall health and the stage (extent) of the cancer.
The main options for treatment of cancer of the esophagus include:
Endoscopic treatments, such as endoscopic mucosal resection, radiofrequency ablation, and photodynamic therapy, may be used for early cancers and pre-cancers of the esophagus. Some of these treatments can also be used as palliative treatment when all the cancer cannot be removed. Palliative treatment is meant to relieve symptoms, such as pain and trouble swallowing, but it is not expected to cure the cancer.
Depending on the stage of the cancer and your general medical condition, different treatment options may be used alone or in combination. Based on these options, you may have different types of doctors on your treatment team. These doctors may include:
- A thoracic surgeon: a doctor who treats diseases of the chest with surgery.
- A radiation oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with radiation therapy.
- A medical oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with medicines such as chemotherapy.
- A gastroenterologist: a doctor who specializes in treatment of diseases of the digestive system.
Many other specialists may be involved in your care as well, including nurse practitioners, nurses, nutrition specialists, social workers, and other health professionals.
It is important to discuss all treatment options as well as their possible side effects with your doctors to help make the decision that best fits your needs. If time permits, it is often a good idea to seek a second opinion. A second opinion can provide more information and help you feel confident about the chosen treatment plan.
The next few sections describe the different types of treatment for esophagus cancer. This is followed by a discussion of the most common treatment options based on the stage of the cancer, as well as information about recurrent esophagus cancer and palliative treatment options.
Last Medical Review: 12/10/2012
Last Revised: 01/18/2013