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If you have esophageal cancer or severe acid reflux, you may need surgery to remove part of your esophagus (esophagectomy). You'll want to choose an experienced surgeon. And you'll need a treatment team focused on finding the right care for your situation. 

At UVA Health, we perform more esophagectomy surgeries than any other program in Virginia. 

We perform all types of esophageal surgeries, including less-invasive procedures. These advanced treatments result in less pain, faster recovery, and safer outcomes.

Esophagus Surgery Types

This procedure may take out different parts of your esophagus. Your surgeon may remove:

  • Part of the esophagus and nearby lymph nodes
  • Part of the esophagus, nearby lymph nodes and the top of the stomach

After these procedures, your surgeon will reconnect the esophagus with your stomach.

How We Lower Chance of Complications

We're always looking for ways to make recovery easier. We offer a technique not widely available. It helps prevent leaking from where we reattach the stomach to the esophagus.

This technique is known as ischemic preconditioning of the stomach. We remove blood vessels to the stomach. This makes the stomach form new blood vessels.

We do this about a month before removing the esophagus. For the patient, this preconditioning means less risk for leaking after we reattach the stomach and esophagus.

Who Needs An Esophagectomy?

We most often do an esophagectomy for people who have esophageal cancer. We also do them when severe acid reflux has damaged the esophagus.

Esophagectomy Plus Chemo & Radiation

If you have a more advanced form of cancer, surgery alone won't be enough. Instead, you'll need a combination of therapies. Radiation and chemo as well as surgery can sometimes cure this cancer. They can also treat your pain and discomfort.

Procedures to Ease Cancer Symptoms

Widespread esophagus cancer often resists treatment. At this point, we'll do everything we can to help you manage the disease. Surgery may not be an option. But we can use other techniques to clear tumors. Procedures that can help you eat and swallow include:

  • Stent placement
  • Enlarging or dilating the esophagus
  • Photodynamic therapy, using lasers

These endoscopy procedures can help when surgery is not an option.

Our Research into Esophagus Cancer 

Esophageal cancer is one of the most common thoracic cancers. The five-year survival remains at 15%. We often only catch this cancer when it has advanced beyond treatment options.

To create effective treatments, we need to know more about the biology of this disease. Our lab focuses on understanding how this cancer operates and grows. We aim to generate knowledge that will lead to new treatment discoveries.

Ronald's Esophageal Cancer Treatment

The first of his symptoms was heartburn, and then they got worse and worse. But after a 3-part treatment course at UVA Health that included chemo, radiation, and surgery, Ronald is now cancer-free.