Esophageal Cancer

Finding More Esophageal Cancer Earlier, And Curing It Less Invasively

Esophageal Cancer Specialists


Our minimally invasive endoscopic surgery provides better results and spares the esophagus.

More than 16,000 new cases of esophageal cancer are reported across the country every year. Early detection is key to curing cancer of the esophagus. When it’s found early, we often avoid traditional surgery techniques that require removal of the esophagus and significantly affect quality of life.

Because the earliest stages of esophageal cancer don’t produce symptoms, it is important to understand esophageal cancer risk factors and screen people at risk. Our active esophageal cancer screening initiatives are finding more cancers at earlier stages. This allows us to use endoscopic surgery techniques, available at very few centers across the country, that allow these patients to keep their esophagus and have significantly shortened hospital stays with minimal or no pain.


A Team of Specialists Provide Individualized Care

We are a major referral center for patients with esophageal cancer. Our specialists offer nationally recognized treatments as well as access to the latest treatment protocols from Memorial Sloan Kettering – one of the country’s premier cancer centers. Our patients benefit from world-renowned clinical expertise and research trials  -- all while being treated close to home.

Our team of esophageal cancer specialists is led by board-certified gastroenterologists, thoracic surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists and radiologists. Treatment teams gather weekly to determine the most effective cancer treatments for individual patients.

To supplement traditional treatment of esophageal cancer, our patients are fully supported with additional therapies that can include biofeedback and other integrative therapies, educational seminars and a patient support group that helps patients and their families know what to expect during treatment and at home.


What Are Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer?

Symptoms of esophageal cancer can include difficulty swallowing, progressive trouble swallowing solid foods, continuous epigastric pain, weight loss, blood in the stool or vomiting blood. These signal a need for medical attention and endoscopic screening.


The Newest Treatments to Prevent and Cure Esophageal Cancer

Leading the State in Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA) Treatments

Treating pre-malignant conditions like Barrett’s esophagus with radio frequency ablation helps us to prevent their progression to esophageal cancer. Our team performs the most RFA procedures in Connecticut, and the second most in New England. The expertise and experience you need to treat Barrett’s esophagus with radio frequency ablation is all here at the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute. Patients should note, however, that RFA is not adequate treatment once there is a mass.

National Leaders in Endoscopic Submucosal Dissection (EMR)

The Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute is among the few centers in the country to offer Endoscopic Sub-Mucosal Dissection, or ESD. This innovative procedure can cure most cases of early-stage esophageal cancer without removing the patient’s esophagus.
With this technique, our specialists use an endoscope to remove small, relatively superficial esophageal cancer lesions. We have removed lesions as large as 7 centimeters with ESD, giving patients a cure and a vastly improved quality of life as compared to esophageal removal, the standard of care elsewhere -- even for early cancers. Often, patients can return home the day after their procedure. Endoscopic Mucosal Resection also can be used for small, early cancers. These patients can often return home the same day as their procedure.

Minimally Invasive Esophagectomy for Esophageal Cancer

When tumors are too deep for ESD, our patients have access to minimally invasive esophagectomy. This technique allows us to remove tumors through multiple small incisions in the abdomen and chest, with faster recovery and less pain than traditional esophagectomy techniques.


What Are Risk Factors for Esophageal Cancer?

Esophageal adenocarcinoma is one of fastest-rising cancers in the United States, presumably due to the increasing incidence of obesity as well as poor nutrition. Because early esophageal cancers are asymptomatic, it is especially important to be aware of risk factors and screening tests.

Obesity, poor diet, alcohol or tobacco use and chronic reflux may all contribute to the development of Barret’s esophagus and esophageal cancer. As many as 40 percent of Americans have heartburn once a month and 7 percent may have it weekly. National educational campaigns are increasing awareness that esophageal cancer is on the rise and reflux is a cause not to ignore.

People with longstanding heartburn should be evaluated by a gastroenterologist to identify any pre-malignant changes like Barrett's Esophagus or more advanced lesions. Up to 10 percent of patients with acid reflux may have Barrett’s Esophagus, a condition that can lead to esophageal cancer. This is why endoscopy screening for Barrett’s Esophagus is so widely available across the Hartford HealthCare system.


How is Esophageal Cancer Diagnosed?

Tests that examine the esophagus are used to diagnose esophageal cancer, including:

  • An esophagoscopy: A gastroscope is inserted through the mouth or nose and down the throat into the esophagus. When the esophagus and stomach are looked at, it is called an upper endoscopy.
  • A biopsy: The removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer. The biopsy is usually done during an esophagoscopy.
  • Endoscopic ultrasound: A type of gastroscope that performs ultrasound from inside the esophagus for tumor staging. This allows the depth of a tumor to be approximated and for malignant lymph nodes to be identified and biopsied.
  • An upper GI series: The patient swallows a barium liquid that flows through the esophagus and into the stomach. X-rays are taken to look for abnormal areas.
  • A chest CT scan.
  • A chest X-ray.

Meet our Esophageal Cancer Specialists:

Name Specialties Location
Clement, Jessica Mary, MD
860.533.5830
  • Hematology / Oncology
  • Internal Medicine
  • Medical Oncology
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  • Manchester
Elias, Rawad, MD
860.249.6291
  • Medical Oncology
  • Geriatric Medicine
  • Hematology / Oncology
  • Internal Medicine
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  • Hartford
  • Willimantic
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Gelwan, Jeffrey Stuart, MD
860.657.1920
  • Gastroenterology
  • Internal Medicine
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  • Glastonbury
  • Farmington
  • Hartford
  • Rocky Hill
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Johnson, Maria Elena, MD
860.246.2571
  • Gastroenterology
  • Internal Medicine
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  • Meriden
  • Farmington
  • Hartford
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Kachala, Stefan, MD
860.696.4923
  • Thoracic Surgery
  • General Surgery
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  • New Britain
  • Meriden
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Katigbak, Mario Winn, MD
860.696.4306
  • Thoracic Surgery
  • Hartford
  • Manchester
  • Norwich
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McKelvey, Alicia Ann, MD, FACS, FCCP
860.696.4306
  • Thoracic Surgery
  • Cardiothoracic Surgery
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  • Hartford
Nestler, Jeffry Laurence, MD
860.246.2571
  • Gastroenterology
  • Hartford
Sachdev, Kiran, MD
860.657.1920
  • Gastroenterology
  • Glastonbury
  • Bloomfield
  • Farmington
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Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute