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Esophageal Cancer Treatment: Why Choose Johns Hopkins?

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Being diagnosed with esophageal cancer can be scary, but the experts at Johns Hopkins can help. Research suggests patients who receive treatment at a center performing a high number of esophageal cancer surgeries typically will see better results -- our surgeons perform between 60 to 100 surgeries each year. Our esophageal cancer treatment team, comprised of highly-specialized gastroenterologists, surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and therapy and nutrition experts, treat the highest number of esophageal cancer cases in the region.

Using technologies proven to provide an accurate diagnosis, our experts are then able to offer state-of-the-art treatment methods developed from research completed here. Our researchers interact daily with clinical practitioners to convey the latest findings, which results in more effective care and advanced practice for chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy.

The cancer specialists at Johns Hopkins focus on each patient's cancer and can tailor proven, personalized therapies not available elsewhere. As the only comprehensive National Cancer Institute designated cancer center in Maryland, you will find the widest range of treatments and clinical trials at Johns Hopkins and doctors who translate their research into action for each patient. Our skilled surgeons offer minimally invasive and robotic surgery procedures -- like a minimally-invasive esophagectomy -- that are not available at other area centers.

Time is of the essence, so we offer access to a team of specialists during a one-day consult at our Thoracic Oncology Multidisciplinary Clinic. To expedite diagnosis, appointments for endoscopic ultrasound testing (the technology we use to determine the stage of the cancer) are scheduled as soon as possible.

Whether you're looking for esophageal cancer diagnosis, treatment, clinical trials, or a second opinion, our world-renowned team of experts will provide the best care available. Schedule an appointment today.

What is esophageal cancer?

doctor and patient image

An esophageal cancer diagnosis refers to the development of cancer in the muscular tube which connects the throat to the stomach (the esophagus). Esophageal cancer is a rare and complex tumor which should be treated by a combination of highly-specialized gastroenterologists, surgeons, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists.

There are two main types of esophageal cancer:

  • Adenocarcinoma -- The most common type of esophageal cancer, adenocarcinoma develops in the glandular tissue in the lower part of the esophagus (near the stomach).
  • Squamous cell carcinoma -- Squamous cell carcinoma develops in the cells (known as squamous cells) which form the top layer of the lining of the esophagus. Unlike adenocarcinoma, which occurs in the lower part of the esophagus, squamous cell carcinoma may occur throughout the entire length of the esophagus.

What are the symptoms of esophageal cancer?

Esophageal cancer symptoms may not be noticeable in the early stages. In later stages of esophageal cancer, symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty or painful swallowing
  • Pain in the throat or back
  • Severe weight loss
  • Hoarseness or chronic cough
  • Blood in stool
  • Vomiting

What causes esophageal cancer?

While the exact cause of esophageal cancer is unknown, a number of factors significantly increase the risk of developing adenocarcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma, including:

  • Alcohol -- A number of studies have shown the more alcohol you consume, the greater the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Barrett's esophagus -- Barrett's esophagus, a condition in which the esophagus' squamous cells turn into cells not usually found in humans (called specialized columnar cells), is a well-established risk factor for adenocarcinoma of the esophagus. The risk of developing adenocarcinomas because of Barrett's esophagus is estimated to be 10 times higher than the normal population.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) -- GERD, defined as recurring heartburn, has been linked to a greater risk of esophageal cancer (specifically adenocarcinomas) due to the high levels of acid reflux in the esophagus.
  • Smoking -- Several studies indicate, as with alcohol consumption, smoking may increase the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma. The combination of alcohol consumption and smoking greatly increases the risk of developing esophageal cancer.
  • Nutrition -- Iron, riboflavin, and vitamin A deficiencies have been associated with an increased risk of developing squamous cell esophageal cancer.

Locations and Appointment Information

Johns Hopkins specialists not only provide outstanding integrated care, but they also discover and innovate to advance cancer care. They offer clinical trials, which approach esophageal cancer from molecules and genetics, to customize care for patients. By using state-of-the-art surgical equipment designed to make smaller incisions, lower the risk of infection, shorten your hospital stay, and speed up recovery time, our team of world-renowned esophageal cancer experts -- located in several convenient locations -- can get you on the road to recovery. From diagnosis to recovery, our physicians will facilitate every aspect of your treatment.

Call 410-933-5420 to schedule an appointment at one of our treatment centers today.

Convenient locations include:

  • The Johns Hopkins Hospital
  • The Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center
  • Howard County General Hospital (endoscopic ultrasound testing only)

Meet Our Team

Thoracic SurgeryRadiology
Medical OncologyNuclear Radiology
Radiation OncologyInterventional Pulmonology
OtolaryngologyInterventional Radiology