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What happens if I have to have my esophagus removed?

Dr. Jill K. Onesti, MD
Surgical Oncologist

If your esophagus is removed, it is replaced by another organ—usually the stomach. The stomach can be converted into a tube similar to the shape of the esophagus. Most people have to adjust and "relearn" eating and swallowing, but many people are able to get back to a normal routine. Your doctor and a nutritionist will be able to help you through this process. Often, a feeding tube is placed into the small intestine to help maintain nutrition during this learning process. If you are unable to eat enough calories prior to surgery, the feeding tube can also be placed before or during your chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Removing the esophagus is major surgery typically used to remove advanced esophageal cancer tumors. In this video, Sharmila Anandasabapathy, MD, a gastroenterologist at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, explains what's involved with an esophagectomy.

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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.