Esophageal Cancer Treatment Options

Mother and daughter with nurse

After being diagnosed with esophageal cancer, you may visit the Abramson Cancer Center's Gastrointestinal Cancer Evaluation Center (GICEC). The center provides expert support and evaluation to discuss your treatment options, which may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. Our team of cancer specialists works together to create personalized treatment plans tailored to you. Learn more about surgical treatment options for esophageal cancer.

Nearly all patients will see a gastroenterologist, a medical oncologist, a radiation oncologist, a gastrointestinal (GI) surgeon and a thoracic surgeon throughout their treatment. We also have a dedicated GI pathologist who reviews biopsy slides and final specimens.

Our esophageal cancer treatment team includes:

  • An esophageal cancer support group that includes esophageal cancer survivors, patients and their loved ones.
  • A team of surgeons who perform a high volume of esophageal surgery
  • Cancer counselors who provide individual and family counseling
  • Nationally recognized medical experts with years of experience in diagnosing and treating esophageal cancer
  • Nurses with advanced, specialized training and experience
  • Oncology nurse and patient navigators to help guide you through the health system
  • Registered dietitians who provide nutrition counseling
  • Rehabilitation therapists who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of physical effects from cancer and its treatment

Treatment options for esophageal cancer may include a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, endoscopy, nutrition and clinical trials.

Navigating a cancer diagnosis and treatment options can be difficult. If you wish to connect with a cancer specialist at Penn Medicine, please call 800-789-7366 (PENN) to speak with a cancer nurse who can help you make an appointment with the right physician.

Surgery for Esophageal Cancer

Penn Medicine offers patients one of the largest gastrointestinal surgery programs in the United States with nationally recognized cancer specialists. Penn's GI surgery program has a record of high-quality patient care and long-term survival, offering better outcomes for patients having surgery.

Nationally, surgery is the most common treatment for esophageal cancer, though the use of endoscopic therapies for early tumors is rapidly increasing. For limited stage esophageal cancer, surgery may be the only treatment needed.


Esophagectomy is the most common form of surgery for patients with esophageal cancer. In this procedure, the part of the esophagus affected by cancer is removed. The healthy part of the esophagus is then connected to the stomach. Lymph nodes near the esophagus are also removed and examined for cancer. If the esophagus is blocked by a tumor, an expandable stent, or tube, may be placed prior to surgery to help keep the esophagus open to improve nutritional status, or after surgery to alleviate symptoms.