Treating Esophageal Cancer
- The treatment route for esophageal cancer depends on several factors.
- Patients with very early stage disease may be able to have their cancer removed surgically.
- Others may need a combination of a few different treatment approaches.
- Immunotherapy is available for a select group of patients.
“It’s rare these days that I just do surgery for a patient with esophageal cancer. They’ve often gotten other treatments,” Dr. Stiles said. “Remarkably, with very early stage disease, stage one, a patient can often have their tumor resected endoscopically, through a scope down their esophagus without the need for invasive surgery. That’s a very selected group of very early, invasive cancer — but increasingly, as we do more endoscopies, we’re able to find those patients.”Read More
- Laser therapy
- Electroagulation (using heat from an electric current to destroy abnormal tissue)
- Immunotherapy (training the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells)
There are also clinical trials underway to look at targeted therapies for esophageal cancer.
“Because esophageal cancer is such an insidious disease, and because it has high rates of recurrence and metastasis, we really try to throw everything we have at it,” Dr. Stiles said. “For patients with more advanced disease that are not surgically resectable, they can often also be treated with chemotherapy, sometimes with radiation with what’s called local control, to try to shrink the tumor so that patient can eat better.
“…And then down the spectrum, there is targeted therapy. There is immunotherapy that’s available to some select patients,” he added.