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Esophageal Cancer

The region’s foremost surgeons treat esophageal cancer less invasively.

Dr. Alexander Rosemurgy and Dr. Sharona Ross, advanced foregut surgeons at the Digestive Health Institute, are highly experienced in minimally invasive surgery to treat esophageal cancer. Esophageal cancer affects the esophagus, or the tube that allows food to go from the throat to the stomach. It is believed to be caused by chronic irritation. There are two main kinds of esophageal cancer. One is squamous cell carcinoma, which is linked to smoking, chewing tobacco, alcohol use, poor nutrition and even drinking beverages that are too hot. The other kind of esophageal cancer, adenocarcinoma, which is linked to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), obesity and Barrett’s esophagus. Unfortunately, esophageal cancer is on the rise in the U.S., with an especially dramatic increase in esophageal adenocarcinoma.

Esophageal Cancer Symptoms

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an esophageal cancer, you may be familiar with some of the symptoms.

Esophageal cancer symptoms can include:

  • Reverse flow of food back up through the esophagus
  • Difficulty swallowing food or drink
  • Pain or sensation that food is catching after swallowing
  • Chest pain a few seconds after swallowing food
  • Weight loss due to difficulties with eating
  • Heartburn
  • Vomiting blood
  • Persistent cough

Diagnosis of Esophageal Cancer

If an esophageal tumor is suspected, patients may have tests such as:

  • Imaging tests such as a barium swallow study,MRI scan and/or CT scan
  • An upper endoscopy procedure that uses fine needle aspiration biopsy to remove samples of cells from the esophagus for evaluation under a microscope
  • A biopsy, in which cells are collected and then studied by a pathologist, who determines if they are cancerous. The pathologist also determines which type of esophageal cancer is present.
  • Staging is done based on the tumor size, how far deep it extends into the layers of the esophagus, whether or not it involves nearby lymph nodes, and whether or not it has spread to other organs. Together, this information helps doctors determine the best options for treatment.

Surgical Treatments for Esophageal Cancer at DHI

When esophageal cancer has not spread to other parts of the body, the standard treatment is surgery to remove the diseased part of the esophagus. Rarely, esophageal cancer is detected in its early stages, when it may be able to be treated through therapeutic endoscopy. Most often, surgery is necessary, either before or after radiation therapy and chemotherapy. If radiation treatment is needed to shrink the tumor before surgery, there is usually a four-week recovery period between radiation and surgery. For smaller, early stage tumors, surgery may be the first treatment.

ROBOTIC Esophagectomy

The surgery most often performed for esophageal cancer is an esophagectomy, which involves removing part or all of the esophagus. A new food tube is then constructed by using part of the stomach or colon. At DHI, Dr. Ross and Dr. Rosemurgy perform this surgery as a minimally invasive procedure with the help of the surgical robot. Having a robotic esophagectomy is often preferable to an open procedure. If performed by skilled surgeons, it has superior outcomes with a significantly faster recovery.

To view actual footage of these surgical procedures, please visit the PROCEDURE VIDEOS & ADDITIONAL RESOURCES page in the For Medical Professionals section of the site.



At DHI, we know that after being diagnosed with cancer, patients want and often need to begin treatment quickly. So we make it a priority to offer appointments for cancer surgery consultations within 5 business days, and often earlier. Our surgeons will make themselves available to see you right away, even for a second opinion.

Patients who are newly diagnosed with cancer, or have just found out they have cancer recurrence, qualify for this priority access. Our surgeons will make themselves available to see you right away, even for a second opinion. We want to help you start your treatment as soon as possible.

If you have been diagnosed with a cancer of the digestive system, don’t wait.
Call the Digestive Health Institute at (813) 615-7440.

Learn more about our Surgical Cancer Care program.

  • Image for Digestive Health Institute Surgeons’ Expertise Showcased at the Society of Robotic Surgery’s 10th Annual Meeting Digestive Health Institute Surgeons’ Expertise Showcased at the Society of Robotic Surgery’s 10th Annual Meeting

    Over the past decade, robotic surgery has transformed many surgical specialties and allowed more and more patients to have minimally invasive operations rather than open surgical procedures. For ...

  • Image for Nationally-Recognized Advanced HPB Surgeons Nationally-Recognized Advanced HPB Surgeons

    One of our nationally-recognized advanced HPB surgeons of the Digestive Health Institute, Dr. Sharona Ross lectured at the 2019 Intuitive CONNECT Robotics Forum held recently in Ft. Lauderdale, ...