Esophageal Cancer

All types of esophageal cancer surgeries can be performed either by conventional open method or robotic or laparoscopic method [VATS (Video Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery) or Thoracoscopic Esophagectomy or Minimally Invasive Esophagectomy].

Robotic or Laproscopic cancer surgery has several advantages over conventional open surgery with same cure rate. Open surgery requires chest to be opened and is every painful for the patient. However, only surgery is curative treatment available for esophageal cancers. Additional therapies (chemotherapy & radiotherapy) are mostly supportive. With these advanced techniques the trauma to the patient is much less and this makes the treatment more acceptable.


Esophagus (food pipe or gullet) is a muscular tube connecting the throat (pharynx) with the stomach. The esophagus is about 40 cm long and it starts in the neck and ends in abdomen. The esophagus runs behind the windpipe (trachea) and heart, and in front of the spine inside the chest. Within the chest it is divided into three parts for the ease of treatment: upper, middle and lower thoracic (chest) esophagus. Just before entering the stomach, the esophagus passes through the diaphragm. The cancer of esophagus arises from the innermost lining (mucosa). It can be predominantly of two types: adenocarcinoma & squamous cell carcinoma. Adenocarcinoma is commoner at the lower end of esophagus, whereas, squamous cell carcinoma is commoner in to neck, upper and middle thoracic portions


There are no early symptoms for esophageal cancer. The most common symptoms that appear after the disease grows are:

  • Indigestion and heartburn could be one of the earliest symptoms.
  • Difficulty or pain when swallowing is the most common symptom
  • Pain in the chest, behind the breastbone
  • Regurgitation or vomiting soon after eating.
  • Weight loss
  • Coughing
  • Hoarseness

Endosopic examination of the esophagus and stomach provides the tissue sample for confirmation of the cancer.


Surgery to cure esophageal cancer: The most common surgery performed to treat esophageal cancer is called esophagectomy (trans-thoracic esophagectomy, trans-hiatal esophagectomy, thoraco-abdominal esophagectomy, etc.) where the doctor removes the esophagus and then connects the remaining healthy part of the esophagus to the stomach so that the patient can swallow normally. The stomach or part of the intestine may sometimes be used to make the connection.

There are many ways in which esophagectomy can be performed based on the location of the tumor and the expertise of the surgeon. Our Specialists at OncoVille Cancer Hospital uses a technique called VATS (Video Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery) or Thoraco-laparoscopic Esophagectomy or Minimally Invasive Esophagectomy to give best results. Using a robot these surgeries can be performed with improved comfort. The details of the surgical options that are available for esophageal cancer are described on our professional page for esophageal cancer.

Surgery for supportive care: When curative surgery is not feasible or is delayed due to chemotherapy or radiotherapy, surgery may be used to help patients eat and relieve the difficulty is swallowng. This is called supportive or palliative surgery.

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