Cancer is complex — there is no routine esophageal cancer, nor is there ever a routine way to treat it.

The OSUCCC – James esophageal cancer specialists and subspecialists are nationally and internationally renowned in research and patient care for their one particular cancer. In fact, our physician experts actually help write the national clinical guidelines for treating specific cancers. Because of that expertise and understanding of cancer’s complexities and how it acts and reacts differently in each person, the very best outcomes — and the most effective means of treating cancer patients — come from a team approach.

At the OSUCCC – James, the esophageal cancer treatment team includes internationally recognized gastrointestinal medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, geneticists, nutritionists and more. Also on that team are esophageal cancer researchers who help sequence tumors to identify key molecules that fuel each patient’s cancer and who then develop drugs that target only those particular molecules. Working together and across medical disciplines, this super sub-specialized team develops individualized, highly targeted treatment plans that specifically target the molecular and biological makeup of your individual cancer.

As one of only four cancer centers in the country funded by the National Cancer Institute to conduct both phase I and phase II clinical trials, the OSUCCC – James offers patients access to more clinical trials than nearly any other cancer hospital in the region and more of the most targeted, most effective treatment options, many of which are available only at the OSUCCC – James.

Esophageal Cancer Treatment

As a National Cancer Institute (NCI)–designated comprehensive cancer center, the OSUCCC — James offers patients access to novel therapies that may not be available anywhere else in the United States. The James also leads some of the world’s most advanced, sophisticated clinical trials for esophageal cancer.

Every Person's disease is different, with individually unique genes and molecules driving that disorder. At the OSUCCC — James, our esophageal cancer sub-specialists are world-renowned experts who focus solely on gastrointestinal disorders and who reach across medical disciplines to design the very best treatment plan and therapies to target each patient's specific cancer.

One or more of the following treatments may be recommended. (Patients may also benefit from new therapies available in clinical trials.)


When esophageal cancer patients require surgery, the OSUCCC – James specialists may recommend an esophagectomy, in which some or all of the esophagus is removed.

Depending on if the cancer has grown or how far it has spread, lymph nodes and part of the stomach may also be removed. If the esophagus is blocked by a tumor, a stent (a thin, mesh-like tube) may be placed inside the esophagus to help keep it open.

Afteran esophagectomy, your OSUCCC - James surgical specialists will reconnect the remaining stomach to join the remaining part of the esophagus.

After the surgery, some patients may find it harder to eat, so a feeding tube may be needed until the healing process is complete. The esophageal cancer experts at the OSUCCC — James, including specialized and highly trained dietitians and nutritionists work with patients to ensure they have full nutritional support after surgery.

Robotic Surgery

OSUCCC – James has always been on the forefront of pioneering new ways to perform traditional surgeries in less invasive ways using robotic technology.

After an esophagectomy, the surgeon will reconnect the remaining stomach to join what is left of the esophagus. After the surgery, some patients may find it harder to eat. A feeding tube may be needed until the healing process is complete. Doctors at OSUCCC – James along with specialized dieticians and nutritionists will work with you to ensure you have all the nutritional support you need after surgery.

Laparoscopic/Robotic Surgery

Minimally invasive surgery is an advanced method of surgery, with highly trained surgical experts using leading-edge technology to perform minimally invasive procedures. The OSUCCC - James surgical sub-specialists use maximum visibility inside the body while operating with precise movements through tiny incisions.

Benefits can include:

  • Less blood loss 
  • Less pain
  • Quicker recovery time
  • Less time spent in the hospital
  • Quicker return to normal activities

Sometimes patients will ask if the robot does the surgery itself. The answer is no. Rather, it is a sophisticated system that these highly specialized, expert surgeons use to gain even more precision during surgery.

Our surgical sub-specialists were among the first in the United States to perform minimally invasive surgery using the groundbreaking da Vinci Robotic Surgical System. The OSUCCC – James surgeons continue to perform more robot-assisted surgeries than any other hospital in Ohio and are among the top five in the entire nation.

Endoscopic Therapies

For pre-malignant lesions or very early stage cancers, less invasive outpatient endoscopic therapies (like endoscopic mucosal resection and endoscopic submucosal dissection) using flexible scopes can be undertaken to remove small growths within the esophagus and stomach for subsequent pathologic analysis.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation targeted directly at the cancer cells to destroy those cells or keep them from growing.

The radiation is aimed at the cancer from outside the body or delivered to the cancer inside the body through tiny seeds that are usually directed to the organ using catheters, or thin tubes.

A patient with esophageal cancer may receive radiation therapy before or after a surgery to remove tissue or a tumor. Radiation can shrink a tumor to make surgery more successful, and it is delivered only to the tumor in order to prevent damage to surrounding, healthy tissue.

The OSUCCC — James radiation experts are leaders in innovative radiation treatments. Additionally, the OSUCCC – James was the first NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center in the country to offer patients something called Localized Plaque Therapy -  a special type of internal radiation therapy, or brachytherapy, for patients with esophageal cancer.

Localized plaque radiation therapy involves attaching tiny radioactive seeds to a disk called a plaque. The radiation therapy specialists place the disk on where the tumor is, and the disk delivers radiation directly to the tumor without damaging healthy surrounding tissue.

The OSUCCC – James also offers other leading-edge radiation treatments, including imaging-based radiation therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), stereotactic radiosurgery and using a Varian TrueBeam Linear Accelerator.


Chemotherapy drugs stop cancer cell growth by either destroying the cells or stopping them from dividing and making new cells.

Chemotherapy drugs can be taken by mouth, injected into a vein or muscle, or delivered with a lotion or cream, and they may be given over a period of months.

When the drugs enter the bloodstream, they can reach cancer cells throughout the body (called systemic chemotherapy). Combination chemotherapy uses more than one anti-cancer drug.

A low-dose chemotherapy is often given while a patient is also undergoing external radiation therapy.

Chemoradiation Therapy

For patients with more advanced esophageal cancer, the OSUCCC – James esophageal cancer experts may recommend combining surgery with chemotherapy and radiation.

Laser Therapy

The OSUCCC – James esophageal cancer experts administer a drug to the patient, which makes cancer cells sensitive to light. Then, by using an intense, narrow beam of light (laser), they can target and kill specific cancer cells.

Laser therapy is often used to treat Barrett’s esophagus or to treat a tumor blocking the esophagus.


The experts send a thin probe down into the esophagus through an endoscope and are then able to use an electric current to burn the tumor off. In some cases, this treatment can help relieve esophageal blockage.

Targeted Therapies

Targeted therapies are drugs that target and attack cancer cells without destroying healthy surrounding cells. These drugs sometimes have less severe side effects than other treatments, including standard chemotherapy drugs delivered alone. And sometimes, by delivering these drugs in combination with chemotherapy, targeted therapies interrupt certain proteins and receptors to stop cancer cells from growing.

One type of targeted therapy, called tyrosine kinase inhibitors, blocks specific signals that tumors need to grow, and they are effective in treating esophageal cancer. Herceptin is a type of kinase inhibitor used to treat esophageal cancer.

(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.

Esophageal Cancer Research & Clinical Trials

For cancer patients, clinical trials mean hope. Hope for a cancer-free world and for better, more targeted ways to prevent, detect, treat and cure individual cancers.

Patients can enter clinical trials before, during or after starting their cancer treatment.

The internationally recognized experts at the OSUCCC – James believe the best way to treat patients and manage their disease successfully is to be at the forefront of delivering the latest, most effective treatments available and by working with nationally and internationally renowned experts to develop the newest and best esophageal cancer treatments and programs.

The OSUCCC – James has more than 500 open clinical trials at any given time, with some of the world’s latest discoveries available to clinical trial patients right here in Columbus, Ohio. In fact, patients have access to more of this nation’s leading-edge, targeted treatments and cancer clinical trials here than at nearly any other hospital in the region as well as access to some of the most advanced, targeted treatments and drugs.

Additionally, the OSUCCC – James is one of only four U.S. cancer centers funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to conduct phase I and phase II clinical trials. These trials go only to centers that demonstrate an exemplary capacity for research and clinical care, the expertise to deliver the latest in treatments and the infrastructure to interpret and track treatment results.

The OSUCCC – James and Ohio State have nearly 300 cancer researcher scientists dedicated to understanding what makes each patient’s cancer grow, spread or reoccur. And because of the OSUCCC – James’ NCI phase I and phase II approvals, these experts can move research discoveries into clinical trials and get them to patients sooner, which can mean improved outcomes, faster responses and fewer side effects.

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.

Who Should Participate in a Clinical Trial

For some patients, taking part in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice. Patients can enter clinical trials before, during or after starting their cancer treatment.

The OSUCCC – James is one of only four institutions funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to conduct phase I and II clinical trials on NCI–sponsored anticancer drugs.

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.

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The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

460 West 10th Avenue

Columbus, Ohio 43210

800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066

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