Esophageal cancer is one of those rare cancers. And if you’ve been diagnosed with it, you might be asking “why me?” It’s true that finding out you have cancer of any kind is really tough. It can be life changing. But with the right care team beside you, leading the way, there’s every reason to hope — and even the toughest times can seem a little more manageable.
Our industry-leading cancer experts are ready to help. We want to be your partner with a game plan that offers the best possible care. At Cleveland Clinic, you’re a survivor from the first minute you walk through our door.
Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Esophageal Cancer Care?
Our team includes board-certified and fellowship-trained specialists with extra education and experience in treating esophageal cancers. We provide quick, accurate diagnoses so you can begin treatment right away. Meet our team.
We understand how esophageal cancer and its treatment can affect the quality of your days. We make sure you have supportive therapies like nutrition counseling, speech therapy, pain management and palliative care to help relieve symptoms and side effects.
Our experts in gastroenterology (digestive system), medical oncology, pulmonology (respiratory system), radiation oncology and surgical oncology work together on your treatment. We make sure you see the right provider at the right time to have the best possible health outcome.
Minimally invasive options:
We use the least invasive options possible to reduce side effects and help you recover from surgery quickly.
Innovation and research:
Cleveland Clinic experts research new therapies for esophageal cancer and new ways to improve your quality of life during treatment. Talk to your care team to see if you’re eligible to take part in a clinical trial for esophageal cancer.
Cancer treatment can be hard, and we know you won’t always feel like leaving home. We want to make things as easy for you as possible. That’s why we also offer virtual visits. This safe, easy and convenient option lets you meet with your provider from the comfort of home using your smartphone, tablet or computer.
U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks Cleveland Clinic a top hospital in the nation. Newsweek has also named us a top hospital in the world.
Diagnosing Esophageal Cancer at Cleveland Clinic
You might not have any symptoms at first. That’s why esophageal cancer is often diagnosed in its later stages. One of the most common symptoms, though, is trouble swallowing. You might also have pain in your throat, hoarseness or a cough that won’t go away and heartburn. You might also lose weight when you don’t want to.
At your appointment, your healthcare provider will ask about your medical history and will want to know what symptoms you have and how long you’ve had them. After a physical exam, your provider might do several tests to find esophageal cancer and see if the cancer has spread (which determines its stage). These tests may include:
- Chest X-ray.
- CT scan.
- Endoscopic ultrasound of your esophagus.
- Esophagram (barium swallow).
- PET scan.
We use the results of these tests to give the cancer a grade (how abnormal the tumor cells look). Our experts then use the cancer’s stage and grade to design a personalized treatment plan for you.
We may also use minimally invasive techniques like upper endoscopy and laparoscopy to get tissue samples (biopsy). Specialists look at these samples under a microscope to see if cancer cells are there.
Second Opinion for Esophageal Cancer at Cleveland Clinic
A cancer diagnosis is never easy. It can be shocking and stressful. After you take a moment to breathe and process your diagnosis, finding the best medical team to help you travel this road is the most important thing. Often a second opinion can help.
At Cleveland Clinic we’re ready to give that second opinion. We want to help you find answers to your questions. We’ll talk through treatment options and offer support. And because we know you need help right away, we’ll always try to schedule your appointment with us as soon as possible. A second opinion can give you peace of mind knowing you have the most capable and compassionate cancer care team on your side.
Who Treat Esophageal Cancer
Esophageal Cancer Treatment at Cleveland Clinic
The esophageal cancer experts at Cleveland Clinic work together — and with you — to design a treatment plan specific to your needs. Depending on your cancer’s grade and stage, you may have:
Many people with esophageal cancer have surgery. Our surgeons may take out either part or all of your esophagus during an esophagectomy. Depending on your specific health needs, you may have traditional (open) surgery or robot-assisted, minimally invasive surgery.
Our experts use an instrument with a flexible tube, light and camera (endoscope) to look at your esophagus and take out the cancer. These minimally invasive procedures include:
- Endoscopic mucosal resection.
- Endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD) for esophageal and gastric cancer.
We may use external beam radiation therapy to treat esophageal cancer. This treatment uses high-powered beams of radiation (usually X-rays) to kill cancer cells. Our experts may use radiation therapies to:
- Reduce tumor size before surgery.
- Act as the primary treatment to try to get rid of the cancer.
- Relieve symptoms caused by the cancer when cancer has spread (metastasized).
Systemic therapy for esophageal cancer
Systemic therapies work throughout your body to target cancer cells. Our medical oncologists use these powerful drugs to destroy cancer:
Follow up Care for Esophageal Cancer at Cleveland Clinic
Depending on where the cancer is in your esophagus, esophageal cancer and its treatment can affect your ability to swallow, breathe and speak. We offer services and support, like nutrition counseling, speech therapy and palliative care to help you manage these side effects.
Taking the Next Step
Cancer is never part of anyone’s life plan. But if it’s reared its ugly head in your life, we’re there to help. Whether you’re facing a diagnosis already — or still at the wondering stage, thinking something’s wrong but not sure what — connecting with a Cleveland Clinic cancer expert as soon as possible is the first important step toward getting the answers and treatment you need.
Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic esophageal cancer experts is easy. We’re here to help you get the care you need.
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Learning you have cancer can be stressful, shocking and challenging. From the moment you get the news, you're a survivor. As you face the challenges that go along with cancer treatment and recovery — physical and emotional — we’ll be right there with you.
At Cleveland Clinic, survivorship care is one part of your journey. We offer a wide range of services, resources, clinics and support groups to help with any physical, emotional, financial and spiritual needs you might have related to your cancer diagnosis. Lending a helping hand along the way, we want you to not only survive, but thrive on this journey and beyond.