Esophageal cancer care in Denver, Colorado

The providers within the HealthONE Physician Group network offer expert cardiothoracic care for patients in the Denver community with cancer. Our thoracic surgeons treat heart, lung, esophageal and chest wall conditions using advanced surgical techniques and the latest technology. We are committed to pursuing innovative and personalized treatment plans to ensure the best possible outcomes for esophageal cancer diagnosis and treatment.

To learn more about our esophageal cancer care services, schedule an appointment with us.

Types of esophageal cancer

There are two common types of esophageal cancer that develop in patients:

  • Adenocarcinoma — Often found in the cells where the lower esophagus meets the stomach
  • Squamous cell carcinoma — Named for the cells in the upper and middle parts of the esophagus

Signs of esophageal cancer

Esophageal cancer grows slowly and may grow for many years before symptoms are felt. As a result, many patients are not diagnosed until the disease has spread. It's important to see your doctor as soon as you experience symptoms, which can include:

  • Hoarseness
  • Severe coughing
  • Swallowing pain and/or difficulty
  • Throat, chest or back pain
  • Weight loss without trying

Esophageal cancer risk factors

A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of developing a disease. Having a risk factor does not automatically mean you will get esophageal cancer. However, you should monitor your risk level and contributing factors such as:

  • Barrett's esophagus
  • Excess alcohol consumption
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Heavy smoking or use of chewing tobacco
  • Obesity

Esophageal cancer diagnosis

Most often, esophageal cancer is detected at later stages. If it is found early, sometimes endoscopic therapies are possible, and surgery may not be necessary. Computerized tomography and positron emission tomography scans allow doctors to determine the extent to which cancer has spread beyond the esophagus, including surrounding lymph nodes.

Additionally, patients may undergo an upper endoscopy. During this procedure, a tiny camera is inserted into the esophagus to visualize and biopsy any mass found directly. An ultrasound can also be used during this procedure to help determine tumor growth in the esophagus wall.

Esophageal cancer treatment

The treatment for esophageal cancer can be long and intense, which is why it is best done under the care of an experienced team. Our cancer care program includes a thoracic surgeon and support team who develop individualized treatment plans to best match the needs of each patient.

Patients with stage two and stage three esophageal adenocarcinoma are often treated with a multidisciplinary approach that includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. This method requires patients to be in otherwise good health and physical condition.

Patients diagnosed in stage four and nonsurgical candidates in stage three generally receive chemotherapy and possibly radiation, depending on symptoms and overall health.

Cancer treatment recovery

Chemotherapy and radiation treatment recovery depend on well the treatment was tolerated and the patient's overall general health and other medical problems. However, if surgery is planned after chemotherapy and radiation, the operation is scheduled six to eight weeks after completion to allow time for recovery. This period enables the patient's body to strengthen for surgery.

Our surgical and cancer care teams are focused on providing a comfortable, swift recovery. They are dedicated to ensuring you or a loved one will receive the most effective treatment methods available.