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Surgery for Esophageal Cancer

Man in hospital bed shaking hands with provider while wife stands next to him

Penn Medicine is home to one of the largest gastrointestinal surgery programs in the United States, with nationally recognized cancer specialists offering the most advanced surgical treatment options for esophageal cancer. We also have a dedicated esophageal surgery unit where all esophageal cancer surgeries are performed.

Most esophageal cancer patients are treated with chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. It has been found that when patients with locally advanced disease (the middle stages of esophageal cancer) are treated with chemotherapy and radiation first and then undergo surgery, they experience the best possible long-term outcomes. However, for select patients with early-stage esophageal cancer, surgery may be the only treatment needed.

We are considered an ultra-high volume center for esophageal cancer surgeries, performing, on average, at least 70 esophagectomies each year. Studies have shown that esophagectomies performed in high-volume hospitals by experienced surgeons have the greatest chance of achieving the best possible outcomes.


Esophagectomy is the most common form of surgery for patients with esophageal cancer. More than 90 percent of esophagectomies at Penn Medicine use a minimally invasive approach, which is likely to reduce pain and recovery time when compared with open surgery.