A National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center

Make an appointment: 800-826-HOPE
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Esophageal Cancer

More than 18,000 Americans are diagnosed with esophageal cancer each year, and more than 15,000 will die from this disease. However, timely diagnosis and intervention can make a dramatic difference in improving survival odds and quality of life.
 
At City of Hope, our multidisciplinary team takes an integrated, comprehensive approach to diagnosing and treating esophageal cancers, as well as pre-cancerous conditions such as Barrett’s esophagus. This includes using advanced technologies and specialized techniques such as:
 
  • endoscopic ultrasound
  • minimally-invasive, robotically-assisted surgery
  • radiofrequency ablation
  • highly precise radiation therapy
 
Additionally, City of Hope patients have access to our comprehensive team of supportive care experts, who can help manage and treat potential quality of life issues, such as trouble with eating, drinking or speaking following treatment.
 
 
As one of a handful of institutes to attain the elite designation of Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute, City of Hope is acknowledged as a leader in esophageal cancer research and treatment. With our decades of experience, specialized therapy protocols and extensive program of clinical trials, newly diagnosed or relapsed patients can find a treatment regimen that is tailored to their needs and gives them the best chance for survival. U.S. News & World Report also named City of Hope as one of the top cancer hospitals in the country for the 11th year.
 
 
In collaboration with other departments and cancer centers, City of Hope’s esophageal cancer program has an active portfolio of clinical trials studying novel treatments, including trials of new surgery, radiation and drug therapy regimens that are more effective against the disease and/or less harmful to the patient. Many of these promising therapies are only available to patients being treated at the City of Hope.
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with esophageal cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient or contact us at 800-826-HOPE.
 
 
 

Esophageal Cancer Team

About Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissues of the esophagus, a hollow muscular tube that moves food and liquid from the throat to the stomach.
 
The two most common types of esophageal cancer are:
 
  • Squamous cells carcinoma: cancer that begins in the squamous cells, which line the esophagus. This type of cancer can occur anywhere along the esophageal tract.
  • Adenocarcinoma: cancer that originate from gland cells, which produce and secrete mucus to help food move through the esophagus. This type of cancer is more common in the lower esophagus.
 
Each type of esophageal cancer grows and is treated in different ways. Your City of Hope team of cancer experts will carefully study your individual case and work with you to determine the best treatment plan for you.
 
 
Signs and Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer
 
Screening for esophageal cancer is not currently recommended for the general population, but certain high risk groups — like those with Barrett’s esophagus — should undergo periodic endoscopy to screen for esophageal cancer. 
 
Esophageal cancer is usually found as a result of symptoms caused by the cancer, and they can include:
 
  • Trouble or painful swallowing
  • Feeling like food is getting “stuck” after swallowing
  • Chest pain, particularly behind the breast bone
  • Weight loss
  • Persistent hoarseness and coughing
  • Esophageal bleeding, which can lead to black stools
  • Frequent vomiting and  hiccupping
 
While many of these symptoms may be caused by other conditions, early esophageal cancer detection is critical to successful treatment. If you or a loved one experiences any of the above symptoms, please contact a doctor for further evaluation.
 
Risk Factors of Esophageal Cancer
 
Risk factors associated with esophageal cancer include:
 
  • Age: The chance of getting esophageal cancer increases with age; more than 85 percent are diagnosed in people age 55 or older.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol consumption is linked with a higher risk of esophageal cancer.
  • Barrett’s esophagus: Chronic reflux of stomach acid in to the esophagus can damage the inner lining of the esophageal tract. Over time, the normal squamous cells lining the esophagus are replaced with gland cells — a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus. This elevates the risk of developing adenocarcinoma.
  • Diet: a diet high in processed meat may elevate esophageal cancer risk, while a diet high in fruits and vegetables may lower it. Additionally, drinking very hot liquids frequently may increase risk due to its long-term damage to esophageal lining.
  • Esophageal conditions: In addition to Barrett’s esophagus and GERD, people with conditions such as achalasia (the esophagus sphincter fails to relax properly), Plummer-Vinson syndrome (which causes esophageal webs that can obstruct food’s passage into the stomach) and tylosis (an inherited disease that predisposes people to develop small esophageal growths) are at an elevated risk for developing esophageal cancer.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): For people with GERD, the stomach's digestive enzymes and acid escape into the lower part of the esophagus, causing frequent heartburn or pain in the middle of the chest. People with GERD have a slightly elevated risk of getting adenocarcinoma of the esophagus. GERD also elevates the risk of developing Barrett’s esophagus, another risk factor for esophageal cancer.
  • Gender: Men are three times more likely than women to get esophageal cancer.
  • Overweight/obesity: People who are overweight or obese have a higher chance of developing esophageal cancer.
  • Tobacco: The use of cigarettes, cigars, pipes or chewing tobacco has been linked to a higher likelihood of developing esophageal cancer. The risk increases with more frequent or prolonged use of tobacco products.
 
If you suspect that you or a loved one may have an elevated risk of esophageal cancer, please consult with a doctor on preventive and early detection measures that are available.
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with esophageal cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient or contact us at 800-826-HOPE.
 
Sources: American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute

How We Diagnose and Stage Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal Cancer Diagnosis
 
A timely and accurate detection of esophageal cancer is essential to planning the best course of treatment. In addition to a routine physical examination, City of Hope doctors may also use the following tests to diagnose esophageal cancer, as well as pre-cancerous conditions such as Barrett’s esophagus:
 
  • Endoscopic ultrasound: City of Hope is a leader in the use of this highly sensitive detection method, which uses a probe in combination with sound waves to obtain detailed internal images of the esophagus. If a suspicious growth is found, it can then be biopsied for further evaluation.
  • Esophagoscopy: In this procedure, a thin, flexible camera is inserted into the esophagus. It is equipped with a tool to obtain tissue samples for further evaluation.
  • Biopsy: Abnormal-looking cells of the esophagus are removed and checked by a pathologist for cancerous signs. In addition to detecting esophageal cancer, this test can also spot pre-cancerous changes in the esophagus cells.
 
Other tests that may be used for diagnosis or further evaluation include chest X-rays, computed tomography (CT/CAT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scans.
 
Staging Esophageal Cancer
 
To properly plan for treatment, esophageal cancer patients are staged in accordance to how advanced the disorder is. This is primarily done by taking a number of factors into consideration, including:
 
  • Size of the tumor
  • Grade of the tumor, which predicts how slow or fast it is growing
  • If the tumor have grown into or through the muscle and connective tissue layers of the esophagus
  • Whether the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and how many lymph nodes are affected
  • If the cancer has spread to adjacent organs and tissues, such as the diaphragm, lungs, spine, aorta or membrane surrounding the heart
  • If the cancer has metastasized to distant organs, such as the bone or kidney
 
Based on these factors, patients are staged according to their risk level, with higher risk patients typically requiring more intensive treatments.
 
More information on esophageal cancer staging criteria is available on the National Cancer Institute’s website.
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with esophageal cancer or are looking for a  second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about  becoming a patient or contact us at 800-826-HOPE.
 

Esophageal Cancer Treatment Approaches

Esophageal cancer is often at an advanced stage upon diagnosis, so treatment needs to be rapid and aggressive, requiring the expertise of specialists who are experienced in treating the disease. And because esophageal cancer rarely exhibits symptoms in the early stages, it is often advisable to treat precancerous conditions—such as Barrett’s esophagus—upon detection as well.

At City of Hope, a multidisciplinary team of medical experts across different fields — including thoracic surgery, radiation oncology, medical oncology and supportive care medicine — work together to plan and implement a treatment regimen that is individually tailored to the patient for optimal results.

Therapies we use to treat cancer and pre-cancer of the esophagus may include:

Endoscopic Therapy

Our surgeons specialize in a minimally-invasive procedure called radiofrequency ablation (Barrx™), which uses an orally inserted endoscope to deliver an electrical current that heats up and destroys the cancerous tissue. This procedure is also effective in treating precancerous cells found in the esophagus as well as Barrett’s esophagus.
 
For early stage esophageal cancers, we also perform endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR), which uses the endoscope to remove small tumors from the esophagus, without the need for an incision. These are outpatient procedures and patients can go home on the same day.

Surgery

Surgery is often the primary treatment for esophageal cancer.
 
City of Hope’s thoracic surgeons specialize in  minimally invasive and robotically-assisted surgical procedures for esophageal cancer, which can remove cancerous tissue with less discomfort for the patient. By using smaller incisions compared to an open procedure, patients experience less pain and recover faster. City of Hope surgeons are among the most experienced with robotic esophagectomy in the world.
 
Learn more about our surgery options for esophageal cancers »
 

Radiation Therapy

Radiation is often used in conjunction with other therapies to treat esophageal cancer. For cancers of the esophagus, radiation may be applied externally using one or more beams focused on the tumor or internally using radioactive seeds that are implanted into or near the tumor site (brachytherapy).
 
In addition to standard radiation regimens, City of Hope also offers Helical TomoTherapy , an advance technology combining radiation delivery with advanced imaging that results in more focused beams of radiation focused on the tumor while minimizing exposure to adjacent tissues and organs, including the heart, lungs and spine.
 

Drug Therapy

Chemotherapy – the use of anticancer medicines – includes a wide range of drugs to treat primary and metastatic esophageal cancer. Additionally, targeted therapy drugs can attack esophageal cancer cells without impacting normal tissues and organs.
 
Drug therapy can also enhance the effectiveness of surgery or radiation therapy, by shrinking the tumor before the procedure and making it easier to remove (neoadjuvant therapy), or given after the procedure to minimize the chance of recurrence (adjuvant therapy.)
 
At City of Hope, patients have access to both both standard drug regimens as well as newly developed drugs (or drug combinations) through an extensive program of clinical trials.
 
As part of the treatment team, a medical oncologist will evaluate the patient’s cancer, health and other factors, so that the drug therapy, if appropriate, can be tailored to the patient throughout the continuum of care.
 

Become a Patient

If you have been diagnosed with esophageal cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient or contact us at 800-826-HOPE.

Esophageal Cancer Research and Clinical Trials

There is extensive collaboration between clinicians and researchers develop and evaluate new esophageal cancer therapies designed to improve survival and quality of life outcomes. City of Hope patients have access to a wide variety of clinical trials ranging from new chemotherapy and targeted therapies, novel surgical techniques and new radiation approaches — all focused on enhancing treatment, detection and prevention of esophageal cancer.
 
Some of our current esophageal cancer research projects include:
 
  • City of Hope researchers, in collaboration with the California Institute of Technology, have developed a nanoparticle formulation of the chemotherapy drug camptothecin called CRLX101. CRLX101’s small size enables it to permeate the more leaky blood vessels present in tumors, allowing the anti-cancer drug to accumulate at cancer sites and minimizing its side effects on normal tissues. The drug has already shown promise for patients with lung and pancreatic cancers, and investigators hope it will have therapeutic benefits for esophageal cancer patients as well.
  • Overexpression of the HER2 protein is linked to growth and progression of several cancers, include esophageal cancers, so City of Hope is participating in a Phase III clinical trial to see whether adding trastuzumab (Herceptin)—a drug that targets HER2—can enhance standard therapy’s effectiveness against adenocarcinoma of the esophagus.
  • Overexpression of the HER2 protein in some esophageal cancers can also be exploited for imaging purposes, since they will take in more trastuzumab than normal tissues. Using this knowledge, researchers are investigating whether linking trastuzumab to imaging agent 64Cu-DOTA results in better visualization of tumors in a positron emission tomography (PET) scan.
  • Following surgery to treat esophageal cancer, some patients may have trouble eating, drinking and maintaining a healthy body weight—all of which can lead to poorer outcomes and quality of life. To address this, City of Hope’s Division of Nursing Research and Education is currently conducting an assessment study of patients’ dietary habits and problems following esophageal surgery. The research team will then use the results to develop a supportive care program to help patients adjust to new eating patterns after treatment.
 
Become a Patient
 
If you have been diagnosed with esophageal cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient or contact us at 800-826-HOPE.
 

Living with Esophageal Cancer

While our primary goal is to cure or control the disease, another top priority for care at City of Hope is relieving suffering and discomfort for esophageal cancer patients during and after their treatments.
 
In addition to curative therapies, City of Hope esophageal cancer patients and their caregivers have access to the broad range of services offered by our Department of Supportive Care Medicine. The department’s staff of professionals, including rehabilitation specialists, speech therapists, registered dieticians and clinical social workers, can help patients and loved ones with a variety of care and wellness issues including:
 
  • Managing side effects such as trouble swallowing or speaking
  • Adjustment to new dietary habits following esophageal surgery or radiation
  • Pain management
  • Navigation through the health care system
  • Coping and maintaining emotional/social/spiritual well-being
  • Staying healthy and active during/after treatment
  • Guidance on eating and cooking well
  • Healing arts
  • Building caregivers’ skills  
 
 
The Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center is the heart of the Department of Supportive Care Medicine, integrating City of Hope's support services under one umbrella. The Biller Resource Center provides a warm and welcoming space where patients, families and caregivers can access the resources, education and support they need to strengthen and empower themselves, before, during and after treatment.

Our team of supportive care experts includes clinical social workers; pain and palliative care physicians and nurses; psychologists, psychiatrists; patient navigators; health educators; spiritual care chaplains; child life specialists and more. The Biller Resource Center staff may be reached at 626-256-4673, ext. 32273 (3CARE).
 

This site includes tips, tools and online resources to help cancer patients and their families with issues that arise during cancer treatment.
 
Additional Resources
 
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with esophageal cancer or are looking for a  second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about  becoming a patient or contact us at 800-826-HOPE.
 

Support this program

It takes the help of a lot of caring people to make hope a reality for our patients. City of Hope was founded by individuals' philanthropic efforts 100 years ago. Their efforts − and those of our supporters today − have built the foundation for the care we provide and the research we conduct. It enables us to strive for new breakthroughs and better therapies − helping more people enjoy longer, better lives.

For more information on supporting this specific program, please contact us below.

Joe Komsky
Senior Director
Phone: 213-241-7293
Email: jkomsky@coh.org

 
 

Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal Cancer

More than 18,000 Americans are diagnosed with esophageal cancer each year, and more than 15,000 will die from this disease. However, timely diagnosis and intervention can make a dramatic difference in improving survival odds and quality of life.
 
At City of Hope, our multidisciplinary team takes an integrated, comprehensive approach to diagnosing and treating esophageal cancers, as well as pre-cancerous conditions such as Barrett’s esophagus. This includes using advanced technologies and specialized techniques such as:
 
  • endoscopic ultrasound
  • minimally-invasive, robotically-assisted surgery
  • radiofrequency ablation
  • highly precise radiation therapy
 
Additionally, City of Hope patients have access to our comprehensive team of supportive care experts, who can help manage and treat potential quality of life issues, such as trouble with eating, drinking or speaking following treatment.
 
 
As one of a handful of institutes to attain the elite designation of Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute, City of Hope is acknowledged as a leader in esophageal cancer research and treatment. With our decades of experience, specialized therapy protocols and extensive program of clinical trials, newly diagnosed or relapsed patients can find a treatment regimen that is tailored to their needs and gives them the best chance for survival. U.S. News & World Report also named City of Hope as one of the top cancer hospitals in the country for the 11th year.
 
 
In collaboration with other departments and cancer centers, City of Hope’s esophageal cancer program has an active portfolio of clinical trials studying novel treatments, including trials of new surgery, radiation and drug therapy regimens that are more effective against the disease and/or less harmful to the patient. Many of these promising therapies are only available to patients being treated at the City of Hope.
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with esophageal cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient or contact us at 800-826-HOPE.
 
 
 

Esophageal Cancer Team

Esophageal Cancer Team

About Esophageal Cancer

About Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissues of the esophagus, a hollow muscular tube that moves food and liquid from the throat to the stomach.
 
The two most common types of esophageal cancer are:
 
  • Squamous cells carcinoma: cancer that begins in the squamous cells, which line the esophagus. This type of cancer can occur anywhere along the esophageal tract.
  • Adenocarcinoma: cancer that originate from gland cells, which produce and secrete mucus to help food move through the esophagus. This type of cancer is more common in the lower esophagus.
 
Each type of esophageal cancer grows and is treated in different ways. Your City of Hope team of cancer experts will carefully study your individual case and work with you to determine the best treatment plan for you.
 
 
Signs and Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer
 
Screening for esophageal cancer is not currently recommended for the general population, but certain high risk groups — like those with Barrett’s esophagus — should undergo periodic endoscopy to screen for esophageal cancer. 
 
Esophageal cancer is usually found as a result of symptoms caused by the cancer, and they can include:
 
  • Trouble or painful swallowing
  • Feeling like food is getting “stuck” after swallowing
  • Chest pain, particularly behind the breast bone
  • Weight loss
  • Persistent hoarseness and coughing
  • Esophageal bleeding, which can lead to black stools
  • Frequent vomiting and  hiccupping
 
While many of these symptoms may be caused by other conditions, early esophageal cancer detection is critical to successful treatment. If you or a loved one experiences any of the above symptoms, please contact a doctor for further evaluation.
 
Risk Factors of Esophageal Cancer
 
Risk factors associated with esophageal cancer include:
 
  • Age: The chance of getting esophageal cancer increases with age; more than 85 percent are diagnosed in people age 55 or older.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol consumption is linked with a higher risk of esophageal cancer.
  • Barrett’s esophagus: Chronic reflux of stomach acid in to the esophagus can damage the inner lining of the esophageal tract. Over time, the normal squamous cells lining the esophagus are replaced with gland cells — a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus. This elevates the risk of developing adenocarcinoma.
  • Diet: a diet high in processed meat may elevate esophageal cancer risk, while a diet high in fruits and vegetables may lower it. Additionally, drinking very hot liquids frequently may increase risk due to its long-term damage to esophageal lining.
  • Esophageal conditions: In addition to Barrett’s esophagus and GERD, people with conditions such as achalasia (the esophagus sphincter fails to relax properly), Plummer-Vinson syndrome (which causes esophageal webs that can obstruct food’s passage into the stomach) and tylosis (an inherited disease that predisposes people to develop small esophageal growths) are at an elevated risk for developing esophageal cancer.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): For people with GERD, the stomach's digestive enzymes and acid escape into the lower part of the esophagus, causing frequent heartburn or pain in the middle of the chest. People with GERD have a slightly elevated risk of getting adenocarcinoma of the esophagus. GERD also elevates the risk of developing Barrett’s esophagus, another risk factor for esophageal cancer.
  • Gender: Men are three times more likely than women to get esophageal cancer.
  • Overweight/obesity: People who are overweight or obese have a higher chance of developing esophageal cancer.
  • Tobacco: The use of cigarettes, cigars, pipes or chewing tobacco has been linked to a higher likelihood of developing esophageal cancer. The risk increases with more frequent or prolonged use of tobacco products.
 
If you suspect that you or a loved one may have an elevated risk of esophageal cancer, please consult with a doctor on preventive and early detection measures that are available.
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with esophageal cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient or contact us at 800-826-HOPE.
 
Sources: American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute

How We Diagnose Esophageal Cancer

How We Diagnose and Stage Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal Cancer Diagnosis
 
A timely and accurate detection of esophageal cancer is essential to planning the best course of treatment. In addition to a routine physical examination, City of Hope doctors may also use the following tests to diagnose esophageal cancer, as well as pre-cancerous conditions such as Barrett’s esophagus:
 
  • Endoscopic ultrasound: City of Hope is a leader in the use of this highly sensitive detection method, which uses a probe in combination with sound waves to obtain detailed internal images of the esophagus. If a suspicious growth is found, it can then be biopsied for further evaluation.
  • Esophagoscopy: In this procedure, a thin, flexible camera is inserted into the esophagus. It is equipped with a tool to obtain tissue samples for further evaluation.
  • Biopsy: Abnormal-looking cells of the esophagus are removed and checked by a pathologist for cancerous signs. In addition to detecting esophageal cancer, this test can also spot pre-cancerous changes in the esophagus cells.
 
Other tests that may be used for diagnosis or further evaluation include chest X-rays, computed tomography (CT/CAT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scans.
 
Staging Esophageal Cancer
 
To properly plan for treatment, esophageal cancer patients are staged in accordance to how advanced the disorder is. This is primarily done by taking a number of factors into consideration, including:
 
  • Size of the tumor
  • Grade of the tumor, which predicts how slow or fast it is growing
  • If the tumor have grown into or through the muscle and connective tissue layers of the esophagus
  • Whether the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and how many lymph nodes are affected
  • If the cancer has spread to adjacent organs and tissues, such as the diaphragm, lungs, spine, aorta or membrane surrounding the heart
  • If the cancer has metastasized to distant organs, such as the bone or kidney
 
Based on these factors, patients are staged according to their risk level, with higher risk patients typically requiring more intensive treatments.
 
More information on esophageal cancer staging criteria is available on the National Cancer Institute’s website.
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with esophageal cancer or are looking for a  second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about  becoming a patient or contact us at 800-826-HOPE.
 

Esophageal Cancer Treatment Approaches

Esophageal Cancer Treatment Approaches

Esophageal cancer is often at an advanced stage upon diagnosis, so treatment needs to be rapid and aggressive, requiring the expertise of specialists who are experienced in treating the disease. And because esophageal cancer rarely exhibits symptoms in the early stages, it is often advisable to treat precancerous conditions—such as Barrett’s esophagus—upon detection as well.

At City of Hope, a multidisciplinary team of medical experts across different fields — including thoracic surgery, radiation oncology, medical oncology and supportive care medicine — work together to plan and implement a treatment regimen that is individually tailored to the patient for optimal results.

Therapies we use to treat cancer and pre-cancer of the esophagus may include:

Endoscopic Therapy

Our surgeons specialize in a minimally-invasive procedure called radiofrequency ablation (Barrx™), which uses an orally inserted endoscope to deliver an electrical current that heats up and destroys the cancerous tissue. This procedure is also effective in treating precancerous cells found in the esophagus as well as Barrett’s esophagus.
 
For early stage esophageal cancers, we also perform endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR), which uses the endoscope to remove small tumors from the esophagus, without the need for an incision. These are outpatient procedures and patients can go home on the same day.

Surgery

Surgery is often the primary treatment for esophageal cancer.
 
City of Hope’s thoracic surgeons specialize in  minimally invasive and robotically-assisted surgical procedures for esophageal cancer, which can remove cancerous tissue with less discomfort for the patient. By using smaller incisions compared to an open procedure, patients experience less pain and recover faster. City of Hope surgeons are among the most experienced with robotic esophagectomy in the world.
 
Learn more about our surgery options for esophageal cancers »
 

Radiation Therapy

Radiation is often used in conjunction with other therapies to treat esophageal cancer. For cancers of the esophagus, radiation may be applied externally using one or more beams focused on the tumor or internally using radioactive seeds that are implanted into or near the tumor site (brachytherapy).
 
In addition to standard radiation regimens, City of Hope also offers Helical TomoTherapy , an advance technology combining radiation delivery with advanced imaging that results in more focused beams of radiation focused on the tumor while minimizing exposure to adjacent tissues and organs, including the heart, lungs and spine.
 

Drug Therapy

Chemotherapy – the use of anticancer medicines – includes a wide range of drugs to treat primary and metastatic esophageal cancer. Additionally, targeted therapy drugs can attack esophageal cancer cells without impacting normal tissues and organs.
 
Drug therapy can also enhance the effectiveness of surgery or radiation therapy, by shrinking the tumor before the procedure and making it easier to remove (neoadjuvant therapy), or given after the procedure to minimize the chance of recurrence (adjuvant therapy.)
 
At City of Hope, patients have access to both both standard drug regimens as well as newly developed drugs (or drug combinations) through an extensive program of clinical trials.
 
As part of the treatment team, a medical oncologist will evaluate the patient’s cancer, health and other factors, so that the drug therapy, if appropriate, can be tailored to the patient throughout the continuum of care.
 

Become a Patient

If you have been diagnosed with esophageal cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient or contact us at 800-826-HOPE.

Esophageal Cancer Research/Clinical Trials

Esophageal Cancer Research and Clinical Trials

There is extensive collaboration between clinicians and researchers develop and evaluate new esophageal cancer therapies designed to improve survival and quality of life outcomes. City of Hope patients have access to a wide variety of clinical trials ranging from new chemotherapy and targeted therapies, novel surgical techniques and new radiation approaches — all focused on enhancing treatment, detection and prevention of esophageal cancer.
 
Some of our current esophageal cancer research projects include:
 
  • City of Hope researchers, in collaboration with the California Institute of Technology, have developed a nanoparticle formulation of the chemotherapy drug camptothecin called CRLX101. CRLX101’s small size enables it to permeate the more leaky blood vessels present in tumors, allowing the anti-cancer drug to accumulate at cancer sites and minimizing its side effects on normal tissues. The drug has already shown promise for patients with lung and pancreatic cancers, and investigators hope it will have therapeutic benefits for esophageal cancer patients as well.
  • Overexpression of the HER2 protein is linked to growth and progression of several cancers, include esophageal cancers, so City of Hope is participating in a Phase III clinical trial to see whether adding trastuzumab (Herceptin)—a drug that targets HER2—can enhance standard therapy’s effectiveness against adenocarcinoma of the esophagus.
  • Overexpression of the HER2 protein in some esophageal cancers can also be exploited for imaging purposes, since they will take in more trastuzumab than normal tissues. Using this knowledge, researchers are investigating whether linking trastuzumab to imaging agent 64Cu-DOTA results in better visualization of tumors in a positron emission tomography (PET) scan.
  • Following surgery to treat esophageal cancer, some patients may have trouble eating, drinking and maintaining a healthy body weight—all of which can lead to poorer outcomes and quality of life. To address this, City of Hope’s Division of Nursing Research and Education is currently conducting an assessment study of patients’ dietary habits and problems following esophageal surgery. The research team will then use the results to develop a supportive care program to help patients adjust to new eating patterns after treatment.
 
Become a Patient
 
If you have been diagnosed with esophageal cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient or contact us at 800-826-HOPE.
 

Living with Esophageal Cancer

Living with Esophageal Cancer

While our primary goal is to cure or control the disease, another top priority for care at City of Hope is relieving suffering and discomfort for esophageal cancer patients during and after their treatments.
 
In addition to curative therapies, City of Hope esophageal cancer patients and their caregivers have access to the broad range of services offered by our Department of Supportive Care Medicine. The department’s staff of professionals, including rehabilitation specialists, speech therapists, registered dieticians and clinical social workers, can help patients and loved ones with a variety of care and wellness issues including:
 
  • Managing side effects such as trouble swallowing or speaking
  • Adjustment to new dietary habits following esophageal surgery or radiation
  • Pain management
  • Navigation through the health care system
  • Coping and maintaining emotional/social/spiritual well-being
  • Staying healthy and active during/after treatment
  • Guidance on eating and cooking well
  • Healing arts
  • Building caregivers’ skills  
 
 
The Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center is the heart of the Department of Supportive Care Medicine, integrating City of Hope's support services under one umbrella. The Biller Resource Center provides a warm and welcoming space where patients, families and caregivers can access the resources, education and support they need to strengthen and empower themselves, before, during and after treatment.

Our team of supportive care experts includes clinical social workers; pain and palliative care physicians and nurses; psychologists, psychiatrists; patient navigators; health educators; spiritual care chaplains; child life specialists and more. The Biller Resource Center staff may be reached at 626-256-4673, ext. 32273 (3CARE).
 

This site includes tips, tools and online resources to help cancer patients and their families with issues that arise during cancer treatment.
 
Additional Resources
 
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with esophageal cancer or are looking for a  second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about  becoming a patient or contact us at 800-826-HOPE.
 

Support This Program

Support this program

It takes the help of a lot of caring people to make hope a reality for our patients. City of Hope was founded by individuals' philanthropic efforts 100 years ago. Their efforts − and those of our supporters today − have built the foundation for the care we provide and the research we conduct. It enables us to strive for new breakthroughs and better therapies − helping more people enjoy longer, better lives.

For more information on supporting this specific program, please contact us below.

Joe Komsky
Senior Director
Phone: 213-241-7293
Email: jkomsky@coh.org

 
 
Quick Links
With Cancer, Expertise Matters

 
Cancer patients need to have confidence in their treatment plans by exploring all possible options. Often that means they should get a second opinion.  For these four patients, getting a second opinion from experts at City of Hope was life-saving.
Tips, tools and resources to help you and your family cope with the issues that arise during and after cancer treatment.
Virtual Tour of City of Hope
Clinical Trials
Our aggressive pursuit to discover better ways to help patients now – not years from now – places us among the leaders worldwide in the administration of clinical trials.
 
For 100 years, we’ve been a global leader in the fight against cancer, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS. Hope powers our dream of curing diseases that affect millions of people worldwide. We need help from people like you. Become a Citizen of Hope, and join us in the fight to save lives all over the world.


NEWS & UPDATES
  • On Jan. 1, 2015, six City of Hope patients who have journeyed through cancer will welcome the new year with their loved ones atop City of Hope’s Tournament of Roses Parade float. The theme of the float is “Made Possible by HOPE.” The theme of the parade is “Inspiring Stories.” Repr...
  • When 25-year-old Angelina Mattos was diagnosed with Stage 4 oral cancer earlier this year, she learned that her only hope of survival was through the removal of her tongue, a surgery that leaves people without the ability to talk or eat normally, sometimes permanently ending their ability to speak. After hearin...
  • Two years ago, Joselyn Miller and her family sat together as stem cells from her brother’s bone marrow were infused into her – a precious gift of life that the family is excited to have the chance to pass to another patient in need. Today, the stem cell recipient is healthy. Her 23-year-old son Rex, who […...
  • Even as the overall rate of oral cancers in the United States steadily declines, the rate of tongue cancer is increasing — especially among white females ages 18 to 44. An oral cancer diagnosis, although rare, is serious. Only half of the people diagnosed with oral cancer are still alive after five years, accor...
  • Sometimes cancer found in the lungs is not lung cancer at all. It can be another type of cancer that originated elsewhere in the body and spread, or metastasized, to the lungs through the bloodstream or lymphatic system. These tumors are called lung metastases, or metastatic cancer to the lungs, and are not the...
  • When it comes to research into the treatment of hematologic cancers, City of Hope scientists stand out. One study that  they presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology suggests a new standard of care for HIV-associated lymphoma, another offers promise for the treatment of re...
  • Patients with HIV-associated lymphoma may soon have increased access to the current standard of care for some non-HIV infected patients – autologous stem cell transplants. Impressive new data, presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) in San Francisco, indicate that HIV-...
  • On Jan. 1, 2015, six City of Hope patients who have journeyed through cancer will welcome the new year with their loved ones atop City of Hope’s Tournament of Roses Parade float. The theme of the float is “Made Possible by HOPE.” The theme of the Rose Parade is “Inspiring Stories.”...
  • The holidays can create an overwhelming urge to give to people in need — especially to sick children and families spending the holidays in a hospital room. That’s a good thing. Holiday donations of toys and gifts can bolster the spirits, and improve the lives, of people affected by illness, and hospitals ...
  • On Jan. 1, 2015, six City of Hope patients who have journeyed through cancer will welcome the new year with their loved ones atop City of Hope’s Tournament of Roses Parade float. The theme of the float is “Made Possible by HOPE.” The theme of the parade is “Inspiring Stories.” Here...
  • Cancer has a way of “talking” to the immune system and corrupting it to work on its own behalf instead of defending the body. Blocking this communication would allow the immune system to see cancer cells for what they are – something to be fought off – and stop them from growing. A breakthrough Scientists [R...
  • On Jan. 1, 2015, six City of Hope patients who have journeyed through cancer will welcome the new year with their loved ones atop City of Hope’s Tournament of Roses Parade float. The theme of the float is “Made Possible by HOPE.” The theme of the parade is “Inspiring Stories.” By V...
  • On Jan. 1, 2015, six City of Hope patients who have journeyed through cancer will welcome the new year with their loved ones atop City of Hope’s Tournament of Roses Parade float. The theme of the float is “Made Possible by HOPE.” The theme of the parade is “Inspiring Stories.” The ...
  • On Jan. 1, 2015, six City of Hope patients who have journeyed through cancer will welcome the new year with their loved ones atop City of Hope’s Tournament of Roses Parade float. The theme of the float is “Made Possible by HOPE.” The theme of the parade is “Inspiring Stories.” In 2...
  • You’ve done the easy stuff – braved the toy store and the Black Friday frenzy, stayed up all night trolling deals online, picked up gift cards for your colleagues at work. There’s just one gift left, the one you’ve been putting off and the one that means so much. What do you give your friend who […]