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Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer is a type of cancer found in the esophagus. The esophagus is part of your digestive system; food moves from your mouth through the esophagus to the stomach.

There are two main types of esophageal cancer:
  • Adenocarcinoma, which starts at the bottom of the esophagus as it joins the stomach. This type may be related to diseases such as reflux disease.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma, which is typically located in the middle of the esophagus and can be related to smoking and alcohol use.

 Unfortunately, early esophageal cancer often does not cause pain or symptoms. Later, there may be painful swallowing and difficulty swallowing solid foods.


Treatment options

Treatment of esophageal cancer can be quite complex and is based upon several factors, including the type of cancer, location, size and spread. Once these factors are determined, your doctor may recommend chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and/or surgery to help fight this disease.

  • Chemotherapy involves giving medications that can help decrease the size of the cancer as well as prevent the cancer from spreading to other areas of the body. Legacy doctors offer proven treatment regimens. We are also involved in national clinical trials.
  • Radiation therapy involves giving radiation doses to shrink the cancer. This treatment can help reduce pain and other symptoms. It can also help reduce and control the spread of the cancer in that area.

  • Surgery often requires removal of the esophagus and the surrounding lymph nodes. The esophagus is usually replaced with part of the stomach. Legacy offers minimally invasive techniques that can help speed recovery.

A team of experts

Since the treatment of esophageal cancer requires input from many different specialists, we have gathered together physicians across specialties who are committed to treatment of this disease. We routinely discuss and develop treatment plans in a patient care conference; this allows us to discuss individual patients with experts in their field to generate a unique treatment plan for each patient.

Legacy has particular expertise in treating cancer, including gastrointestinal cancers -- colorectal, liver, gallbladder, bile duct, pancreatic and esophageal cancers. We offer up-to-date and proven treatment options, including minimally invasive choices, as well as services to support your quality of life during treatment and after.

In addition, the specialists at Legacy Medical Group-Gastroenterology in Gresham at Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center can diagnose cancers in the gastrointestinal tract. We also coordinate with other gastrointestinal clinics and doctors.

Find a gastroenterologist.

You're not alone


At the Legacy Cancer Institute we offer services to support every aspect of your treatment, including your physical, emotional, social and spiritual well-being. We offer a range of support services to help you and your family. If you need help just ask us, and we will help you find the support you need.

Our personalized support services begin with our nurse navigators. They will help you throughout your treatment, from knowing what to expect to finding the right support services and helping you manage symptoms and treatment side effects. Contact a nurse navigator.

In addition, the following support services are also available:

Among the nation's best


Legacy Cancer Institute is ranked among the nation's best by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. Legacy has received multiple quality awards, and is the only system in Oregon to be awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons' Commission (ACS) on Cancer.