The best esophageal cancer treatment usually depends on the extent of the cancer, your overall health, the recommendations of your doctor, and your personal preferences. Surgery may be used to remove small tumors, part of the esophagus, or part of the esophagus and the top portion of the stomach. Chemotherapy or radiation treatment may be used to kill cancer cells as well. You may also consider participating in a clinical trial to try a new treatment for this type of cancer. In some cases, however, the best treatment for esophageal cancer is not one of these treatments by itself but at least two of these treatments used in combination.
Surgery is often used for esophageal cancer treatment. If you have very small tumors that only affect the top layer of the esophagus, you and your doctor may decide that the best treatment is surgery to remove them. As long as your cancer hasn’t spread, your doctor can likely remove just the cancerous tumors and only a small portion of the surrounding healthy tissue. In fact, in an early stage of esophageal cancer, a doctor may use a small tool called an endoscope to access the cancer via your throat.
If the cancer is not in an optimal stage, is larger, or is not easily accessible, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the part of the esophagus in which the tumor is located as well as the lymph nodes that are located nearby. The surgeon will usually connect the part of the esophagus that remains to your stomach. Depending on your unique situation, this may include using part of your colon to replace part of the esophageal tissue that has been removed.
In the event that the cancer is extensive, the best esophageal cancer treatment may be removing not only part of your esophagus but also part of your stomach. In such a case, a surgeon will usually remove the upper part of your stomach as well as the lymph nodes in the area. He will then reattach the leftover part of the esophagus to the stomach, using part of your colon to join the two if necessary.
Often, the best esophageal cancer treatment includes methods used to destroy cancerous cells that are in the body. For example, your doctor may recommend chemotherapy, which involves the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells before or after you have surgery. Radiation therapy, which involves using powerful energy beams to destroy cancer cells, may be used instead of or in addition to chemotherapy treatment. This type of radiation can be applied from the outside of your body or internally.
You may also consider a clinical trial as esophageal cancer treatment. It is important to note, however, that there may be risks to participating in a clinical trial and there is no guarantee that the treatment you receive will be effective. As such, you may do well to carefully weigh the risks versus benefits of your other options before you make this choice.