Thoracic Surgery

The Esophageal Cancer Center at Mount Sinai

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer, Mount Sinai’s team of experts can help. Our Esophageal Cancer Center offers comprehensive care for every stage of the disease.

Esophageal cancer is serious and complex. It responds best to early treatment. Doctors don’t know what causes esophageal cancer, though there may be a genetic component. Survival rates have been improving. We are learning more and more about the causes, prevention, and treatment of esophageal cancer.

We use a team approach, bringing together specialists in gastroenterology, thoracic surgery, oncology, radiation oncology, radiology, pathology, plastic surgery, psychiatry, oncology nursing, and nutrition. We develop the safest and most effective treatment plan for you.

Raja M. Flores, MD, Director of the Esophageal Cancer Center, is a leader in thoracic surgery. Under his leadership, the team has pioneered an improved procedure for esophagectomy that is less invasive, enables patients to recover faster, and has improved outcomes.

About Esophageal Cancer

The esophagus is the 10-inch-long muscular tube that carries food and water from your mouth to your stomach. When the cells in the lining of the esophagus grow very quickly, they can form a tumor. The tumor can spread to other organs, such as your lymph nodes. Esophageal cancer affects more men than women.

Several types of cancer can develop in the esophagus:

  • Adenocarcinoma: This type of cancer starts in the gland cells, usually in the lower third of the esophagus. Having Barrett’s esophagus—which is caused by reflux of stomach acid—can increase your risk for adenocarcinoma. Most cases of esophageal cancer fit into this category.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma: The esophagus is lined with squamous cells. If the cancer starts in these cells, we call it squamous cell carcinoma. This condition starts most often in the neck and upper two-thirds of the chest.
  • Rare cancers: These include lymphomas, melanomas, and sarcomas.

At the earliest stages, you won’t have any signs of esophageal cancer. As it develops, you may experience these symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Coughing or hoarseness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Heartburn or indigestion that keeps getting worse
  • Unintended weight loss

Advanced Diagnostics for Early Detection

The best way to treat esophageal cancer is to start early. At Mount Sinai, we use the most advanced diagnostic and treatment methods available. We are one of the few centers in the world to offer confocal microendoscopy. This highly sophisticated test gives us a standard and a microscopic view of the esophagus. It lets us see the lining of the esophagus. This helps in diagnosing pre-cancerous Barrett’s esophagus at a very early stage.

Why Mount Sinai

At Mount Sinai, we emphasize the importance of early diagnosis. We bring together experts from gastroenterology, endoscopy, and thoracic surgery. This means you receive care in a single location. It also cuts down the time you wait for appointments and test results. And it gives you access to some of the finest specialists in the world who are devoted to improving your quality of life. We also offer access to clinical trials often unavailable elsewhere. Ongoing research improves opportunities for current and future patients. Wherever you are in your journey, we can help.