Esophageal Cancer


NEW YORK, N.Y. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Esophageal cancer is cancer of the long tube that runs from the throat to the stomach. Traditionally, the treatment involves surgery but afterwards, there is a risk of the esophagus leaking, which could cause dangerous, even potentially fatal infections. Now, surgeons at Mount Sinai in New York have pioneered a modification that significantly cuts the risk.

Lou Martinez collects coins, clocks, and other knick knacks. He loves things that have a long history. But in 2018, Martinez’s health took a turn – he was working nights and had a sudden, serious scare.

“I couldn’t swallow my food. I couldn’t swallow water, juice, nothing. Everything laid right there, and I panicked,” Martinez painfully recalls.

After years of struggling with heartburn, doctors diagnosed Martinez with esophageal cancer.

Patients can have complications at the site where surgeons reconnect the esophagus and stomach.

“And that needs to heal. And when that doesn’t heal, the contents leak out. A leak can be out of control where the patient is sick. Sepsis can potentially lead to death,” explains Mount Sinai Chief of Thoracic Surgery, Dr. Raja Flores.

(Read Full Interview)

Dr. Flores and his colleagues have revised the procedure in a way that maximizes good blood flow to the area.

“We figured out that you can do the operation without cutting that right gastric artery. And it’s not just the artery, but it’s the vein. You wanna make sure you keep everything intact,” Dr. Flores further explains.

The revised surgery lowers the complication rate from 25 percent of the patients to just under two percent.

At first, Martinez was afraid to have surgery, but Dr. Flores convinced him it would be lifesaving. Now, that he’s recovered, Martinez says unlike the antiques he collects, these days, he feels brand new.

Dr. Flores says the new technique also decreases surgical time from seven hours to two and a half. He says it’s important for patients to know that a heartburn, and acid reflux, fueled by an increase in obesity, can be life-threatening if not addressed.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #5167

BACKGROUND: Esophageal cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissues of the esophagus, which is a long, hollow tube that runs from your throat to your stomach. Esophageal cancer is the sixth most common cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Incidence rates vary within different geographic locations. In some regions, higher rates of esophageal cancer may be attributed to tobacco and alcohol use or particular nutritional habits and obesity. About 20,640 new esophageal cancer cases are diagnosed every year in the United States and there are about 16,410 deaths from esophageal cancer.


DIAGNOSING: Unfortunately, most esophageal cancers do not cause symptoms until they have reached an advanced stage, when they are harder to treat. But the most common symptoms of esophageal cancer are trouble swallowing, chest pain, weight loss, hoarseness, chronic cough, vomiting, bone pain, and/or bleeding into the esophagus. Having one or more symptoms does not mean you have esophageal cancer. In fact, many of these symptoms are more likely to be caused by other conditions. Still, if you have any of these symptoms, especially trouble swallowing, it’s important to have them checked by a doctor so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: Typically, esophageal cancer — either squamous cell esophageal cancer or adenocarcinoma — is treated with a combination of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery to remove the tumor from the esophagus. The patient’s tumor will be examined to see whether there is residual cancer left in the sample specimen; if there is, patients have a higher risk of a relapse or recurrence. In the United States, adenocarcinomas, which begin in the gland cells in the lower third of the esophagus, are the most common type of esophageal cancer. Risk factors include a history of acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Worldwide, however, squamous cell carcinoma, which begins in the squamous cells of the esophageal lining, is more common. Risk factors include a history of smoking, alcohol consumption and poor oral hygiene. New immunotherapies present new options for both types of esophageal cancer. The next front in this research is to determine how to make immunotherapies work even better. This is where Roswell Park researchers like Dr. Sarbajit Mukherjee and his team are focusing and why he encourages his patients and their families to consider enrolling in clinical trials for new treatments.



Marlene Naanes

(919) 273-5802

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Dr. Raja Flores, MD, Chief of Thoracic Surgery

Read the entire Q&A