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Esophageal Cancer Surgery

Our surgeons perform 80 to 100 esophageal cancer surgeries a year, making them some of the most experienced esophageal cancer surgeons in the nation. Our surgeons aren’t only the most practiced, they’re also some of the most passionate caregivers you’ll meet. They work closely with you from the moment you arrive to ensure you receive the most precise diagnosis and most effective treatment under their care.

Why Choose Johns Hopkins for Esophageal Cancer Surgery

Surgery to treat esophageal cancer requires experience and specialized knowledge to give patients the best post-surgery quality of life. According to several large studies, esophageal cancer patients receive better results when their surgery is performed at a medical center with a high volume of esophageal surgeries. At our center, you will find:

  • Access to world-class expertise: Our surgeons also work hand in hand with a number of other esophageal cancer experts, including gastroenterologists (digestive system specialists), pulmonologists (lung disease specialists), radiation oncologists (specialists in radiation therapy for cancer treatment) and medical oncologists (doctors who specialize in chemotherapy and other therapies for cancer treatment). We offer every type of medical expertise, often requiring only a short walk down a hallway to consult. Meet our team.
  • Advanced treatments and technology: Many of the latest technologies and techniques for esophageal cancer surgery were pioneered at Johns Hopkins, and our surgeons continue to find new, safer ways to give patients the best possible chance for recovery and quality of life post-surgery. We are one of the few centers offering minimally invasive surgery for esophageal cancer, which leads to a shorter recovery time. Learn about patient support services.
  • The ultimate in coordinated care: Our center is one of the few where all of your surgeons, doctors, dieticians, nurses and other specialists meet in the same room to come up with one strategy for treating your unique diagnosis. We’ll make sure you are fully informed, involved and guided through every step of your fight. Learn more about our approach to esophageal cancer treatments.
  • Compassionate care with a family feel: Our patients say what they like best about coming to Johns Hopkins is that they know they’re seeing some of the nation’s leading cancer experts, but they still feel like family members. Our surgeons are intensively involved in each patient’s case, from start to finish.

Meet Our Surgical Oncologists

Recent interviews, podcasts, and articles with Dr. Battafarano:

Meet our team to learn more about our other esophageal cancer specialists.

Types of Esophageal Surgery We Perform

Our esophageal cancer surgery program is renowned for the experience and expertise of our surgeons. We take special care in determining the best course of treatment for your specific needs. These are the types of surgery our surgeons commonly perform to remove esophageal cancers:

  • Transhiatal surgery: In this type of surgery, the surgeon makes incisions in the neck and abdomen in order to remove the tumor. This approach avoids an incision in the chest, but cannot be used if the tumor involves a portion of the stomach or if there are lymph nodes in the chest that must be removed.
  • Ivor-Lewis surgery: This type of surgery is most often used when the tumor is closer to the stomach or if there are lymph nodes in the chest that need to be removed. The surgeon makes incisions in the abdomen and the right side of the chest.
  • Minimally invasive surgery: Johns Hopkins is one of the few medical centers in the country that offers minimally invasive surgery for esophageal cancer (also known as minimally invasive esophagectomy or MIE). Minimally invasive surgery can offer significant benefits, such as shorter hospital stays, shorter recovery times, and less scarring. At Hopkins, it is used when it will benefit the patient in the long term by offering the best possible prognosis.
  • Robotic surgery: Your surgeon performs a robotic esophagectomy by using robotic arms to manipulate tiny surgical instruments. This minimally invasive approach allows the surgeon complete range of motion and better precision than other types of surgery. 

Surgery for Early-Stage Esophageal Cancer

In some cases, ablative therapies may be recommended to treat pre-cancerous esophageal conditions, such as Barrett’s esophagus or dysplasia, or early-stage esophageal cancer. This is a minimally invasive surgical method used to treat solid cancers. 

During ablative therapy:

  1. Special probes are used to “burn” or “freeze” cancers without the usual surgery. Your doctor makes a tiny incision, usually less than 3 mm, and inserts the probe.
  2. Imaging scans such as computed tomography (CT), ultrasound (US) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) guide and position the needle probe into the tumor.

Types of ablative therapy include:

  • Cryotherapy, a process involving the freezing of abnormal tissue 
  • Endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR), a technique using a long narrow tube with an attached camera to remove abnormal tissue from the digestive tract
  • Radiofrequency ablation, a process involving the heating of abnormal tissue 
  • Photodynamic therapy, a technique that uses light-sensitive dye and lasers to remove diseased tissue

 Learn more about Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer.

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