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The board-certified doctors and other specialists at Norton Cancer Institute use the latest equipment and procedures to make a precise diagnosis of your cancer. Our multidisciplinary approach with multiple specialists in one setting means we offer a full range of esophageal cancer treatments, including radiation and immunotherapy.
Our advanced testing options will help your specialist determine a care plan that’s tailored for you based on the stage of your cancer and your treatment goals. Your comprehensive care team of physicians and other health care providers meets regularly to review your case and plan the next steps.
In addition to our current leading-edge treatments, we offer our patients the opportunity to participate in innovative National Cancer Institute- and industry-sponsored clinical research studies.
The esophagus is the narrow tube that leads from the mouth to the stomach. When you swallow, muscles in the tube push food and liquid from the back of the throat down into the stomach. Cancer that starts here is called esophageal cancer, even if it spreads to other parts of the body such as bones or organs.
There are two kinds of esophageal cancer:
Unfortunately, esophageal cancers do not usually show symptoms until they have reached an advanced stage, which makes them harder to treat. It is rare to be diagnosed with esophageal cancer with no symptoms, unless it is discovered accidentally during testing for other medical issues. It is important to remember that no two cancers are alike — you may have none of these symptoms, the symptoms may be a sign of something besides esophageal cancer or you may have a unique combination of symptoms.
The first sign of esophageal cancer is difficulty swallowing and the feeling that food is lodged in the throat. This will get worse as time goes on. Other signs of esophageal cancer include:
Symptoms of advanced esophageal cancer include:
The first thing your doctor will do if you have symptoms of esophageal cancer is take a detailed medical history, including any risk factors you may have. Conditions of the esophagus affect your risk for developing cancer and other issues. From there, your health care provider will determine what is the appropriate next step. Those steps might include:
As with most other cancers, there are different types of treatments for esophageal cancer. Which treatment your health care team chooses will depend on factors such as:
Your team may choose standard esophageal cancer treatments, either by themselves or with other treatments, including:
Norton Cancer Institute physicians are part of leading-edge cancer clinical trials. These are studies that research how the body responds to new drugs or other therapies. You might be a candidate for a clinical trial, depending on many factors.
No one can say exactly how your cancer or treatments will affect you. The statistics below are estimates used to describe how large groups of people have been affected by esophageal cancer. The odds of surviving esophageal cancer vary from person to person, depending on many factors including:
The National Cancer Institute offers some more statistics about esophageal cancer including:
A multidisciplinary medical team brings together a group of health care professionals to plan the best treatment for you. The specialists at Norton Cancer Institute use the latest equipment and procedures to make a precise diagnosis of your cancer. Our multidisciplinary approach with many specialists in one setting means we offer a full range of esophageal cancer treatments.
If you are diagnosed with esophageal cancer, there may be many specialty physicians who make up your care team.
Thoracic surgeons treat diseases of the chest with surgery.
Surgical oncologists use surgery to treat cancer in the whole body.
Radiation oncologists treat cancer with radiation therapy.
Medical oncologists treat cancer with medicines such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy or targeted therapy.
Gastroenterologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the gastrointestinal (digestive) system.
You might have many other specialists on your treatment team as well, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, psychologists, nutritionists, social workers and other health professionals.
Cancer affects the patient as well as their circle of friends and family. That’s why Norton Cancer Institute offers a range of cancer support options for patients, their families and their caregivers.
Esophageal cancer patient support includes:
Is esophageal cancer curable?
Esophageal cancer is almost always treatable, but it is rarely curable. The National Cancer Institute estimates the overall five-year survival rate for esophageal cancer is about 20%, but survival rates can range from 5% to 47%. When esophageal cancer is found early and when it is small, the five-year survival rate is higher. When it is already large or has spread to other parts of the body, treatment is more difficult, and the five-year survival rate is lower.
Who’s affected by esophageal cancer?
Although doctors aren’t sure exactly what causes esophageal cancer, there are many known risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing this type of cancer, including:
What are the different stages of esophageal cancer?
Cancer is given a stage based on how far it has spread from its origin site. The National Cancer Institute gives a detailed list of the stages of esophageal cancer and what each means. No matter what level your cancer is staged, Norton Cancer Institute offers a multidisciplinary approach to esophageal cancer care.
Norton Cancer Institute provides a multidisciplinary approach to esophageal cancer patient care, collaborating with colleagues in other medical specialties to offer a customized plan just for you. Norton Cancer Institute includes surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, nutritionists, pathologists, anesthesiologists, and gastroenterologists. In addition, patients have full access to Norton Healthcare’s full array of diverse specialists, state-of-the-art facilities, patient resources and more.
More patients in Louisville and Southern Indiana choose Norton Cancer Institute than any other provider in the area. We provide compassionate care for the whole person, not just the cancer.
Our Norton Cancer Institute oncologists are also researchers and principal investigators, offering patients sophisticated experience in the latest treatments and access to more than 200 clinical trials.
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