Esophageal Cancer

People with esophageal cancer travel to Duke from all over the U.S. because of our expertise, comprehensive treatment options and breakthrough research. We offer the most advanced treatments available today — from radiation and chemotherapy to esophagectomy, including minimally invasive and robotic surgery options. Because of the high number of patients with esophageal cancer we treat each year, our experience allows us to offer care to patients who may have been considered inoperable elsewhere.

Leaders in Esophageal Cancer

Physicians and surgeons in our nationally ranked cancer center — one of the few National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation — work only with esophageal cancer patients. Your surgeon, radiation oncologist and medical oncologist have a detailed and thorough understanding of your particular tumor, how it behaves, and how it should be treated. Our team approach to your care means that all three specialists evaluate your esophageal cancer and use their expertise to develop the most thorough and targeted treatment plan possible for you.

We also understand how esophageal cancer can make it difficult to eat and affect your quality of life. That’s why we also offer palliative procedures, such as dilatation and stenting, that help relieve your pain and improve your ability to eat.

Choose Duke for your esophageal cancer treatment because we offer:

  • High patient volume. We treat as many as 200 patients with esophageal cancer every year. That's 10 to 20 times the number of patients seen at most medical centers around the country. Our high patient volume is a big reason why our specialists are among the most experienced esophageal cancer experts in the nation.
  • National reputation. We are among the top cancer programs in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. We are also part of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers dedicated to improving care for our patients.
  • Fast access to our treatment experts. When you learn you have esophageal cancer, you want treatment as soon as possible. Our patients are able to meet with a radiation oncologist, medical oncologist and surgeon, all on the same day. You will leave your visit understanding your treatment options, and you'll have a comprehensive treatment plan in place.
  • Surgical excellence. Our surgeons perform more than 60 esophagectomies every year — a procedure that removes part of the esophagus and reconnects the remaining portion to your stomach. At most hospitals, performing 20 of these surgeries annually is considered high volume. We have experience with esophagectomy on a wide range of patients, from basic procedures to complex cases that may be deemed inoperable elsewhere. Our experience with minimally invasive esophagectomy is unmatched in the Southeast. And we are among the top five hospitals in the country for robot-assisted esophagectomy.
  • Highly specialized care. Our thoracic surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists focus specifically on treating gastrointestinal cancers. Their training and experience gives them expertise in effective, targeted treatments for esophageal cancer. Our patients also have access to nutritionists, pharmacists and other specialists who work with our team to ensure you experience a positive outcome.
  • Comforting environment to ease your anxiety. Our Duke Cancer Center features spacious waiting areas, a Quiet Room, large infusion rooms and an outdoor rooftop garden area where patients — based on their treatment regimen — can receive chemotherapy outdoors.
  • Support for you. Our comprehensive support services range from helping patients minimize the side effects of treatment to coping with the emotional and psychological effects of diagnosis and treatment. View all of our cancer support groups in our event calendar.  
  • Clinical trial access. You may be eligible to participate in clinical trials which offer access to new therapies for esophageal cancer before they are available elsewhere. Our research includes studying patient resistance to chemotherapy and radiation and new ways to improve how tumors respond to radiation. The studies help us understand how different patients respond so we can develop more personalized and targeted treatments for you. 



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