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How is esophageal cancer treated?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Surgery, radiation, medications (chemotherapy) or any combination of the three might be used to treat esophageal cancer. Different surgeries are available depending on how advanced the esophageal cancer is. These surgeries remove the mass of cancer cells (the tumor), the tumor and surrounding parts of the esophagus, or the tumor, surrounding parts of the esophagus, and stomach. A stent in the esophagus may be used to keep it open properly if a tumor is blocking it.

Esophageal cancers also might be shrunk using radiation therapy, which guides beams of energy to the cancer. Chemotherapy is yet another treatment option for esophageal cancer in which drugs are used to kill the cancer cells. Laser therapy is a surgery using lasers to kill cancer cells, as electrocoagulation uses electricity. An endoscope may be used to remove or shrink tumors of the esophagus, possibly along with medications that halt or prevent tumor growth. Other treatments may include targeted therapy, the use of drugs designed to specifically prevent the growth of cancer cells or stop the growth of vessels that supply tumors with blood. Each case of esophageal cancer is unique, and the best treatment options must be decided between the affected person and their doctor.

Continue Learning about Esophageal Cancer

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.