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Radiation is given inside the body as close to the cancer as possible. Substances that produce radiation, called radioisotopes, may be swallowed, injected, or implanted directly into the tumor. Some of the radioactive implants are called "seeds" or "capsules." Internal radiation involves giving a higher dose of radiation in a shorter time span than with external radiation. Some internal radiation treatments stay in the body temporarily. Other internal treatments stay in the body permanently, through the radioactive substance looses its radiation within a short period of time. In some cases, both internal and external radiation therapies are used.
Intraluminal intubation and dilation
When a plastic tube is inserted into the esophagus to keep it open during radiation therapy.
The use of high-energy radiation to kill or shrink cancer cells, tumors, and non-cancerous diseases.
Surgery is the most common treatment for cancer of the esophagus. Two types of surgery are commonly performed for esophageal cancer. In one type of surgery, part of the esophagus and nearby lymph nodes are removed (called an esophagectomy) and the remaining portion of the esophagus is reconnected to the stomach.
In the other surgery, part of the esophagus, nearby lymph nodes, and the top of the stomach are removed. The remaining portion of the esophagus is then reconnected to the stomach. Surgery may be performed after either treatment is completed.
The doctor will connect the remaining healthy part of the esophagus to the stomach so the patient can still swallow. A plastic tube or part of the intestine may be used to make the connection. Lymph nodes near the esophagus may also be removed and viewed under a microscope to see if they contain cancer. If the esophagus is partly blocked by the tumor, an expandable metal stent (tube) may be placed inside the esophagus to help keep it open.
Special needs during treatment
Many people with esophageal cancer find it hard to eat because they have trouble swallowing. Learn more about symptoms of esophageal cancer. The esophagus may be narrowed by the tumor or as a side effect of treatment. Some patients may receive nutrients directly into a vein. Others may need a feeding tube (a flexible plastic tube that is passed through the nose or mouth into the stomach) until they are able to eat on their own.
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.
Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.