Points of Pride

  • Minimally-invasive surgery and robotic surgery
  • Novel investigational therapies (clinical trials)
  • Procedure to prepare stomach for surgery pioneered at Ohio State decreases risk of infection after surgery

About Esophageal Cancer

The esophagus is a hollow, muscular tube that moves food and liquid from the throat to the stomach. Esophageal cancer is a gastrointestinal cancer that most often starts in the lining, or outer layer, of the esophagus and moves into the other layers as it grows.

Though more than 18,000 Americans are diagnosed with esophageal cancer every year, the disease represents only about one percent of all diagnosed cancers. It is more prevalent in other parts of the world such as Asia and parts of Africa.

Esophageal Gastrointestinal System

In the United States, esophageal cancer occurs more often in men and in patients with long-term issues like acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Esophageal cancer tends to be more prevalent in patients who have a condition called Barrett’s esophagus. Barrett’s esophagus occurs when the cells lining the lower part of the esophagus become abnormal. Persistent acid reflux – when the stomach’s contents back up into the lower section of the esophagus – may irritate the esophagus and, over time, turn into a more serious condition that can cause Barrett’s esophagus.

There is no such thing as a routine esophageal cancer. Every patient’s disease is different, with different, individually unique genes and molecules driving that specific disease.

At the OSUCCC – James, our esophageal cancer subspecialists are world-renowned cancer experts who focus solely on these tumors and who reach across medical disciplines (medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pharmacists, nurse subspecialists and more) to design the very best treatment plan and therapies to target each patient’s specific cancer.

In fact, our unique Multidisciplinary Esophageal Cancer Clinic offers all newly diagnosed patients an on-site, thorough evaluation and treatment-options review with experts from medical oncology, surgical oncology, radiation oncology, and more – all on the same day – so that together, the patient and the experts can decide on the best personalized treatment options.

Additionally, patients have access to advanced treatment procedures performed only at the OSUCCC – James by internationally recognized experts in esophageal cancer.

And by offering access to some of the country’s most advanced clinical trials right here at the OSUCCC – James, patients know that additional options, when needed, are often available for their treatment and care.

If you’ve been diagnosed with esophageal cancer, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with an esophageal cancer specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

Types of Esophageal Cancer

The two most frequently diagnosed forms of esophageal cancer are named after the type of cells that become malignant (cancerous).


This cancer begins in the glandular cells of the esophagus and make up the majority of esophageal cancers. It is seen more in Western societies than elsewhere. Usually, these tumors are found in the lower part of the esophagus, near the stomach. This type of cancer is related to having acid reflux, Barrett’s esophagus or being obese.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

This cancer begins in the thin, flat cells that line the esophagus. In other parts of the world, this type of cancer occurs more often than it does in the United States. Usually, these types of tumors are found in the upper part of the esophagus. This type of cancer may be related to the heavy use of alcohol or tobacco.

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

Esophageal Cancer Symptoms

Esophageal cancer is a gastrointestinal cancer, and it may not have symptoms in early stages. Once symptoms occur, they may include the following:

  • Painful or difficult swallowing. Patients often report feeling like food is stuck in the throat or chest
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Pain in the middle of the chest behind the breastbone; his can include chest pain, pressure or a feeling of burning in the throat
  • Hoarseness and cough
  • Persistent indigestion and heartburn

Having symptoms does not necessarily mean you have esophageal cancer. But if you have symptoms, you should discuss them with your doctor, especially if symptoms have continued for longer than a few weeks, because they may indicate other health problems.

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

If you’ve been diagnosed with esophageal cancer, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with an esophageal cancer specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

Make an Appointment


Please enter a keyword (i.e. Name, Cancer Type) or choose a Principle Investigator


Please enter a keyword (i.e. Name, Location) or choose a Cancer Type


Find a Location

Search by Building Name, Doctor Name, or ZIP code

The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

460 West 10th Avenue

Columbus, Ohio 43210

What to Expect at The James

Patient and Visitor's Guide

Get information about your stay, amenities, visitor information and more.

Your First Appointment

Know what to bring, how to prepare and what to expect at your first appointment.

Patient Education

Read from a library of resources designed by experts to help you answer questions and make informed decisions.

Contact Us