Esophageal Cancer

Early detection is key to treating cancer of the esophagus. The Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute team is not only finding this cancer earlier, but also treating it less invasively.

When esophageal cancer is found early, we often can avoid surgery to remove the esophagus, which significantly affects the patient’s quality of life. Instead, our specialists offer nationally recognized treatments and access to the latest protocols through our affiliation with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, one of the country’s premier cancer centers.

Connect with our Team 

Call 855.255.6181 or request a callback for support, advice, or a second opinion.

Our Team

Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer

Early stage esophageal cancer often does not cause symptoms.

As the disease progresses, symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Increased difficulty swallowing solid foods
  • Epigastric pain (pain in the upper abdomen immediately below the ribs)
  • Weight loss
  • Blood in the stool or vomiting blood

Diagnosing Esophageal Cancer

Because esophageal cancer doesn’t produce symptoms early, it’s important to recognize risk factors, such as acid reflux and screen people at risk. Doing so has helped our esophageal cancer screening initiatives find more cancers at earlier stages when they are more treatable.

Tests examining the esophagus help diagnose esophageal cancer:

  • Esophagoscopy: A special scope is inserted through the mouth or nose and down the throat into the esophagus. Examining the esophagus and stomach is called an upper endoscopy.
  • Biopsy: Cells or tissues may be removed so a pathologist can check under a microscope for signs of cancer. The biopsy is usually done during an esophagoscopy.
  • Endoscopic Ultrasound: A special scope inserted into the esophagus performs an ultrasound to determine the stage of your cancer. The ultrasound helps measure the depth of a tumor and identifies malignant lymph nodes that require a biopsy.
  • Upper GI (gastrointestinal) Series: The patient swallows a barium liquid that flows through the esophagus and into the stomach. X-rays look for abnormal areas.
  • Chest CT Scan
  • Chest X-Ray

Treating Esophageal Cancer

The Cancer Institute offers the latest treatment options for esophageal cancer, including endoscopic techniques available at only a few centers across the country. These allow a patient to keep their esophagus and have significantly shortened hospital stays with minimal or no pain.

Treatments include:

  • Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA): Treating pre-malignant conditions like Barrett’s esophagus with RFA helps prevent them from becoming esophageal cancer. Our team performs the most RFA procedures in Connecticut, and the second-most in New England.
  • Endoscopic Submucosal Dissection (ESD): The Cancer Institute is among the few centers in the country offering ESD, an innovative procedure that can cure most cases of early-stage esophageal cancer without removing the esophagus.
    • With this technique, our specialists use an endoscope to remove small, relatively superficial esophageal cancer lesions as large as 2.75 inches. This gives patients a cure and improved quality of life.
    • The standard of care elsewhere is esophageal removal. Patients often return home the day after their procedure. With small, early cancers, it’s possible to go home the same day.
  • Minimally Invasive Esophagectomy: When tumors are too deep for ESD, this technique allows us to remove tumors through several small incisions in the abdomen and chest. The procedure offers a faster recovery and less pain than traditional techniques. 

A member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance, we provide innovative care close to home.

We offer the latest treatments through our ongoing membership in the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Alliance, which gives you access to the latest standards of care and clinical trials.

The MSK Alliance

Esophageal Cancer News

November 15, 2022

Extra Hot Coffee May Be Linked to Esophageal Cancer

Do you like your coffee extra hot? Or frequently burn your throat drinking scalding hot tea? Your hot coffee may [...]

June 02, 2021

5 Ways to Control Heartburn, Acid Reflux Without Nexium

Occasional indigestion can happen to anyone. But regular indigestion, either daily or several times a week, is more likely a [...]

April 20, 2021

Webinar: When Acid Reflux Leads to Esophageal Cancer

While relatively rare, chronic acid reflux does more than pose an annoyance – it can actually increase your chances of [...]

April 04, 2021

Step by Step to a Cure for Esophageal Cancer Patients

We are living in a new era of cancer care. Research seeks ways of preventing cancer, more targeted therapy for [...]

October 15, 2020

How To Fight Acid Reflux (Naturally) Without Having To Take Nexium

Q: Is it just me, or does adding ginger to my diet – either in food, tea or eating a [...]

August 10, 2020

The Connection Between Acid Reflux and Cancer

Acid reflux affects millions of people, but you may not know that acid reflux over time could turn to cancer. [...]

Support at the Cancer Institute

The Cancer Institute offers whatever you and your family need on your journey, whether it’s access to an oncology social worker, a nurse navigator to coordinate your care or the support of our Patient and Family Resource Center.

Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute