Jefferson Health

Esophageal Cancer

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Esophageal cancer, thankfully, is very rare in the United States. But if you are diagnosed with this condition, you want to be at a hospital that specializes in cancer care. Turn to the experts at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson, which is designated by the National Cancer Institute as an NCI-designated cancer center. The NCI applies this special designation only to regional referral centers with a high level of clinical services and participation in national clinical trials. This special status as a national center testifies to the work of our basic and clinical scientists and physician researchers, who are on the forefront of advances against cancer.

Bringing together the expertise of Jefferson gastroenterologists, thoracic surgeons, medical oncologists, surgical pathologists, radiation oncologists and radiologists, your Jefferson medical team will give a thorough evaluation and devise a personalized treatment plan based on the size of the tumor, its location and the progression of your cancer.

Advanced Treatments

Jefferson physicians are experienced in treating early esophageal cancer through advanced endoscopic techniques that do not require surgical incisions or the removal of the esophagus. These include:

  • Endoscopic mucosal resection – This is a procedure in which physicians inject a solution into the lining of the esophagus to allow the lesion to be safely removed without damaging the rest of the esophagus.
  • Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) – This is an innovative approach to destroying tumors by delivering high-frequency electrical currents into a tumor via a needle electrode, which destroys cancerous cells through heat.
  • Cryosurgery – This is a procedure that destroys lesions through the application of extremely cold substances.
  • Photodynamic therapy –This therapy involves the administration of a light-sensitive drug that is exposed to a light beam to destroy cancerous cells.

If surgery is recommended to treat your esophageal cancer, Jefferson surgeons may be able to treat you with a minimally invasive procedure that removes all or part of your esophagus through small incisions that result in less pain, complications and recovery time, as compared with open surgery. Our physicians were the first in the Delaware Valley to perform robotic-assisted laparoscopic da Vinci® esophagectomy, which utilizes robotic technology to provide greater precision.

Additionally, we will provide you and your family a support network that includes specially trained nurses, educators, fellow patients and cancer survivors. Among the wide variety of support programs offered at Jefferson is our Buddy Program, which matches cancer patients with trained volunteer cancer survivors who have been through treatment themselves. These volunteers provide one-on-one support either over the telephone or on-site in the waiting area at the Bodine Center for Radiation Therapy/Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson. You can also access services to meet your emotional and psychological needs during your course of treatment through the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are the best way patients can receive new therapies and procedures. To find out if a clinical trial might be right for you, ask your health care provider or contact the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center Clinical Research Management Office at 215-955-1661.