High-Tech Treatment for Esophageal Cancer


ATLANTA, Ga. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — According to the American Cancer Society, almost 16,000 deaths from esophageal cancer occur each year in the US, and many of those cancers are in advanced stages by the time patients have any symptoms and seek treatment. Now a minimally-invasive procedure is helping patients recover faster.

Peter and Margi Caron have been happily married for 46 years.

“We have three children and we have six grandchildren,” said Peter.

They love to travel to exotic places, including a safari in South Africa! They were planning a cruise last year when Peter got sick.

“I was losing weight, wasn’t eating right, wasn’t hungry,” Peter continued.

An endoscopy revealed a two-inch tumor in his esophagus. It was cancer.

“It was six treatments of chemo while doing 26 treatments of radiation,” Peter explained.

After shrinking the tumor, Peter needed a ten- hour surgery to remove it. Thoracic surgeon Manu Sancheti, MD, FACS, Cardiothoracic Surgery, at Emory School of Medicine and Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital says it’s a lengthy and complex procedure.

“Taking out the esophagus and using the stomach as a new esophagus,” said Dr. Sancheti. (Read Full Interview)

Traditionally done with large incisions across the stomach and chest, Dr. Sancheti and his team at Emory University now use robotic technology.

“It allows the articulation for the surgeon to move their hands and fingers in ways they weren’t able to do before,” Dr. Sancheti said.

Going through small incisions on the side, doctors were able to remove the tumor and create Peter’s new esophagus.

“They could not see that it spread outside the esophagus, the lymph nodes were clean, I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Peter told Ivanhoe.

Doctors say performing the surgery robotically means a shorter stay in the hospital, days not weeks.

“Allowing them to get back to a normal lifestyle as soon as possible is really the best reward,” Dr. Sancheti shared.

Giving patients hope for a brighter future.

Peter remains closely monitored and has a PET scan every six months. He says he’s back to enjoying his favorite foods like pizza and spaghetti and meatballs! For more information on this robotic procedure please visit https://winshipcancer.emory.edu/bios/faculty/sancheti-manu-s.html  or www.emoryhealthcare.org

Contributors to this news report include: Janna Ross, Field Producer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer; Dave Harrison, Editor.


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REPORT:        MB #4440


BACKGROUND: Cancer of the esophagus starts in the inner layer (the mucosa) and grows outward (through the submucosa and the muscle layer). Since two types of cells can line the esophagus, there are two main types of esophageal cancer: Squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. Esophageal cancer is more common among men than among women. The lifetime risk of esophageal cancer in the United States is about one in 132 in men and about one in 455 in women. Esophageal cancer makes up about one percent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States. Although many people with esophageal cancer will go on to die from this disease, treatment has improved and survival rates are getting better. During the 1960s and 1970s, only about five percent of patients survived at least five years after being diagnosed. Now, about 20 pecent of patients survive at least five years after diagnosis.

(Source: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/esophagus-cancer/about/key-statistics.html)


SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT: People with esophageal cancer may have trouble and pain with swallowing, particularly when eating meat, bread, or raw vegetables. As the tumor grows, it can block the pathway to the stomach. Even liquid may be painful to swallow. More symptoms include pressure or burning in the chest, indigestion or heartburn, vomiting, frequent choking on food, unexplained weight loss, coughing or hoarseness, and pain behind the breastbone or in the throat. The most common surgery to treat esophageal cancer is called an esophagectomy, where the doctor removes the affected part of the esophagus and then connects the remaining healthy part of the esophagus to the stomach so that the patient can swallow normally. The stomach or part of the intestine may sometimes be used to make the connection. The surgeon also removes lymph nodes around the esophagus.

(Source: https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/esophageal-cancer/treatment-options)


NEW TECHNOLOGY: Manu Sancheti, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery at Emory School of Medicine and a Thoracic Surgeon at Emory, St. Joseph Hospital and Director of Robotic Thoracic Surgery for Emory Health Care talks about esophageal cancer and a new robotic surgery: “Historically the way these surgeries have been described are via open technique. So bigger incisions and when it comes to the chest surgery, it’s big incisions and spreading the ribs to allow our instruments and our hands to get inside the chest and do the surgery. As modern techniques started to grow more laparoscopy or what we call thoracoscopy was developed where the surgeon puts a little light and camera inside of the chest to visualize the chest cavity and then uses their instruments through little holes which is a big step forward.” This approach is less invasive and results in quicker recovery time.

(Source: Manu Sancheti, MD)



Mary Beth Spence, Emory Public Relations



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 mthomas@ivanhoe.com

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Manu Sancheti, MD, FACS

Read the entire Q&A