Esophageal Cancer

Washington University general thoracic surgeons are part of a multidisciplinary team that treats esophageal cancer at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center.

These surgeons offer:

Screening and Treatment Planning for Barrett’s Esophagus
Barrett’s esophagus is a condition in which cells lining the lower part of the esophagus have changed or been replaced with abnormal cells that could become cancerous. Chronic reflux may irritate the esophagus and, over time, lead to Barrett’s esophagus. Screening for Barrett’s esophagus is one of the services offered by Washington University thoracic surgeons. Once Barrett’s esophagus is detected, in-depth discussions about the management are necessary to match the appropriate treatment to each individual patient.

Staging and Treatment
When esophageal cancer occurs, staging the cancer is an important step that will help determine the chance of recovery and treatment options. About half the patients with esophageal cancer at the Siteman Cancer Center undergo an esophagectomy, an operation to remove the esophagus. Thoracic surgeons may choose either transhiatal esophagectomy (performed through the diaphragmatic hiatus without opening the chest) or transthoracic esophagectomy (performed through the chest), depending on the patient’s condition.

For the patient whose esophagus cannot be removed, palliative treatments (efforts to reduce pain and discomfort) are offered. These include various stents to open up the esophagus.

Experience and Teamwork With Other Specialists
The Washington University thoracic surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists at the Siteman Cancer Center treat the highest volume of esophageal cancer cases in the St. Louis region. Thus, they have seen almost all forms of the disease and offer a wide range of drugs as well as radiation and surgical treatment options. Access to clinical trials also is available.

The medical literature also has shown an association between a high volume of benign esophagectomies and good outcomes for these procedures. (See article by Birkmeyer JD, et. al. in New England Journal of Medicine.)

A multidisciplinary approach is important in the treatment of cancers. In addition to various specialists, the Siteman team also includes psychologists and social workers who can help with the emotional and financial challenges facing people with an esophageal cancer diagnosis.

For an esophageal surgery consultation, call (888) 287-8741 or (314) 362-6025.

General thoracic surgeons:
Bryan F. Meyers, MD, MPH
Traves D. Crabtree, MD
Daniel Kreisel, MD, PhD
Alexander S. Krupnick, MD
G. Alexander Patterson, MD
Varun Puri, MD

More about esophageal cancer:
Siteman Cancer Center Web Page on Esophageal Cancer
National Cancer Institute CancerGov Web Page on Esophageal Cancer