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Esophageal Cancer Care

When you’re a patient at Providence, we don’t just treat your esophageal cancer – we treat you. We use the most advanced treatments to create a highly personalized care plan. We also support you and your loved ones with a full range of services throughout your entire cancer journey. The result is effective, whole-person care for the body, mind and spirit.

Why Choose Us for Esophageal Cancer Care?

At Providence, we see the life in you. Together, let’s finish cancer – so you don’t have to miss any of life’s special moments.

No two patients, or their treatment plans, are alike. This is why, at Providence, we take a highly personalized approach to your esophageal cancer care. You’ll experience this through our multidisciplinary tumor boards, where your oncology team collaborates with other cancer care experts about your specific diagnosis. We also offer a Providence Molecular Tumor Board, where we evaluate your genomic and clinical information to find the best genetically matched treatment for you. Your oncology team will work with you directly to design a treatment plan that fits your personal needs. It’s an approach that combines leading-edge treatment with the compassionate care Providence is known for. Why? Because we know this results in the best outcomes.

As a patient, you’ll be supported through your entire cancer journey by a multidisciplinary cancer care team. You’ll be treated by board-certified medical oncologists and radiologists, often with a multi-modality approach that combines surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. If surgery is required, our world-class foregut surgeons use the most advanced techniques. It’s a team-based approach to esophageal cancer care. Your care team may include oncology nurse navigators, physical therapists and other cancer specialists. We also provide you and your family with a full range of support services well beyond conventional treatment, from genetic counseling and education to nutrition and pain management.

Learn more about the experts who make up our multidisciplinary cancer care teams.

Cancer doesn’t discriminate, but access to great esophageal cancer care hasn’t always been the same for everyone. At Providence, we are deeply committed to making sure every patient we treat has access to the best cancer care. We offer various location-specific services to help our patients receive equitable care, such as translation for non-English-speaking patients, telehealth and transportation assistance. We value, respect and support the racial, ethnic, religious, gender, sexual and spiritual identities of each member of our diverse communities, and we welcome all patients, regardless of their ability to pay. We aim to make sure every patient is treated equally and with dignity – whoever you are, and wherever you're at.

As a patient at Providence, you have access to the largest community-based cancer network in the United States. Being part of a collaborative network means that your local esophageal cancer care team shares knowledge and experience with other world-class clinicians across 51 hospitals in seven states. The extent and power of our network is one of the reasons nearly 500 new esophageal cancer patients, and 50,000 new cancer patients, choose Providence each year.

Providence is well known for offering options – and hope – to patients seeking the most advanced procedures and therapies for esophageal cancer. We offer our patients access to cutting-edge clinical trials, many of which make use of the science from Providence network research centers. We have a record of developing groundbreaking procedures and treatments that have now become the gold standard for esophageal cancer care. As a patient, you have the opportunity to participate in one of our many clinical trials for esophageal cancer happening across the Providence network.

 About Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer is a type of gastrointestinal cancer. It occurs when cancer cells develop in the tissues of the esophagus, the muscular tube between the mouth and the stomach. The expert oncology teams at Providence use the most effective therapies to treat patients with every type of esophageal cancer and its related conditions, including:

  • Barrett’s esophagus
  • Esophageal cancer

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Testing and Diagnostics

doctor checks glands of patient

Diagnostic tools help our cancer clinicians determine which therapies will work best for each patient, based on many factors such as cancer type and the genetic or molecular profile of the tumor. Your doctors will use multiple advanced diagnostic and prognostic tools to help design your individualized treatment plan. Depending on your case, this may include one or more of the following:

Personalized Treatment for Esophageal Cancer

We take a team approach to your esophageal cancer treatment because we know this offers the best success in controlling and curing cancer. Your multidisciplinary cancer care team will work with you to design an individualized cancer care plan, from diagnosis to post-treatment support. We offer many different therapies across our Providence locations. Depending on your condition, your personal care plan may include one or more of the following:

Systemic therapies travel through the bloodstream and affect cells in other body parts. They are used for patients whose cancer has spread to other areas of the body or if there’s a high risk of spread. Sophisticated genetic analysis allows us to target therapies to specific DNA mutations that cause cancer cells to develop and grow. Systemic therapies include:

Biomarker and genomic clinical trials (NCI-MATCH and TAPUR) are a group of research clinical trials involving patients with tumors that contain specific genetic mutations. These patients receive drugs directed toward their specific mutation, regardless of the type of cancer they have.

Participants in clinical trials may receive treatments not yet available to everyone. They also receive extra follow-up care in addition to their standard care. Taking part in the search for new and better cancer treatments can be personally satisfying, as participants become part of the advancement of medicine.

Every clinical trial has inclusion and exclusion restrictions that a patient must meet before enrolling in the trial. Before you decide to take part, doctors and clinical trial coordinators tell you all the known risks.

Commercial clinical trials represent research studies sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry. These trials may include new non-FDA approved drugs, FDA approved drugs being used in a non-FDA approved cancer, or in a new novel combination. These trials are often used to obtain FDA approval for the new treatment.

Cooperative group (NCTN) clinical trials are studies designed by a consortium of leading national cancer researchers. The goal of these studies is to test the newest and most cutting-edge innovations.

Participants in clinical trials may receive treatments not yet available to everyone. They also receive extra follow-up care in addition to their standard care. Taking part in the search for new and better cancer treatments can be personally satisfying, as participants become part of the advancement of medicine.

Every clinical trial has inclusion and exclusion restrictions that a patient must meet before enrolling in the trial. Before you decide to take part, doctors and clinical trial coordinators tell you all the known risks.

Chemoradiotherapy combines the use of chemotherapy and radiation at the same time. When given together, the two treatments are more effective than when given in sequence. This approach is often used when a cancer is advanced but has not spread to distant parts of the body and therefore may respond to more intense therapy.

Chemotherapy is the systemic use of cytotoxic chemicals to kill cancer cells. Today there are many medications (e.g., biological medications, immune treatments, targeted therapies) that do not fit the classic definition of chemotherapy yet are often included in this category.

Immunotherapy uses drugs to allow the body’s own immune system to more effectively find and destroy cancer cells.

Molecularly targeted therapy is the use of drugs that are molecularly targeted at a genetic mutation that has allowed the cancer to grow. This therapy enables personalized treatments for patients who carry certain genetic mutations or abnormalities.

Surgical therapies involve an operation or procedure to remove cancer from the body. Surgery may be the main treatment for some invasive cancers, but it’s only one part of the entire treatment plan. Surgical therapies include:

Complex reconstruction with colon and small bowel is a surgical procedure to repair a portion of the small or large intestine, and can be used after a bowel resection procedure.

This procedure can restore normal gastrointestinal function and improve quality of life after surgery, so that patients can eat and digest food.

This advanced procedure requires a sophisticated facility and equipment, along with highly specialized physicians. It is available at some Providence locations.

Open esophageal surgery is a procedure to remove esophageal tissue and reconstruct the organ with tissue from the stomach or intestines.

Minimally invasive esophageal surgery is a procedure to remove cancer in the esophagus. The surgery involves making small incisions through which surgeons insert a small camera and can remove cancerous parts of the esophagus and stomach. The surgery may be performed with robotic assistance.

The use of smaller surgical instruments allows the surgeon to make smaller, more precise incisions. This results in a less traumatic experience with lower risk and a quicker recovery for the patient.

This advanced procedure requires a sophisticated facility and equipment, along with highly specialized physicians. It is available at some Providence locations.

Endoscopic ultrasound staging combines endoscopy and ultrasound to evaluate growths or other abnormalities in the gastrointestinal tract, including the esophagus.

Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation from a source like X-rays or photons to kill cancer cells or shrink tumors. It may be part of a treatment plan that also includes systemic therapies and/or surgery. Radiation is sometimes used to help ease a patient’s pain or discomfort. Radiation therapies include:

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT) are advanced types of radiation therapies. IMRT uses advanced technology to manipulate the radiation beams to conform to the shape of a tumor. VMAT is a subtype of IMRT in which the machine actively delivers radiation beams while moving in an arc around the patient.

This method of radiation delivery offers next-generation capabilities. The arc-based therapy provided via VMAT delivers high doses of radiation to more focused areas, reducing side effects and the overall treatment time for the patient. This treatment is particularly effective at treating several types of cancer while at the same time reducing toxicity and harm to vital organs.

This procedure is one of several new ways to deliver radiation therapy. It requires a sophisticated facility and equipment, along with highly specialized physicians. It is available at some Providence locations.

Stereotactic radiation (SABR/SBRT) is a group of treatments that includes stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) and stereotactic ablative radiation (SABR) – both of which are adaptations of stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) – for the treatment of targets in the body, but outside the brain. Similar to SRS, these techniques deliver very high doses of radiation using sophisticated motion management and patient immobilization techniques.

The number of radiation treatments is minimal and may range from one to five treatments delivered over one to two weeks.

This procedure is one of several new ways to deliver radiation therapy. It requires a sophisticated facility and equipment, along with highly specialized physicians. It is available at some Providence locations.

Surface-guided radiation therapy (SGRT/SIGRT) is an approach to radiation targeting that offers real-time beam guidance from face and body surface-recognition systems.

This treatment is particularly effective at treating several types of cancer while at the same time reducing toxicity and harm to vital organs, thus minimizing side effects.

This advanced procedure requires a sophisticated facility and equipment, along with highly specialized physicians. It is available at some Providence locations.

Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3DCRT) is a radiation planning and treatment technique in which three-dimensional (3D) imaging enables improved targeting for radiation treatment. 3D planning with CT imaging makes radiation treatment much more conformal, or tailored to the target.

Additional therapies may also be part of the treatment plan for a small number of patients. These may include:

Interventional radiology is an invasive procedure guided by radiologic imaging. This approach may be used to implant a port, or vascular access device, in order to obtain diagnostic material, remove fluid from the chest or abdomen, or deliver treatment locally.

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Accreditations

We are proud to see our dedication to our cancer patients recognized by some of the most well-respected programs and institutions in the United States. Several of our Providence locations have achieved the following accreditations:

Meet the Team

At Providence, you'll have access to a vast network of dedicated and compassionate providers who offer personalized care by focusing on treatment, prevention and health education.

Find Clinical Trials

Are you looking for a clinical trial for yourself or for a patient? We’d love to help you find one!

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Expert Tips and Advice for Cancer

2/26/2024
Two early phase trials available at Providence Cancer Institute to evaluate escalating doses of different potential cancer treatments in patients with advanced solid tumors.
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The Food and Drug Administration has approved an adoptive cell therapy for adult patients with melanoma that has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic).
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Supporting thousands of patients experiencing food insecurity, a converted space at Providence Gateway Internal Medicine clinic is filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, milk, eggs and more.
2/19/2024
​​​​​​​Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center has opened a Multi-Cancer Early Detection Clinic, the first of its kind in the San Fernando Valley.