Skip to main content

Cancer care: Stomach and esophageal cancer

Skip section navigation

Stomach and esophageal cancer treatments

Your treatment plan

Our patients work with their care team to develop a cancer treatment plan. The plan addresses the medical concerns and preferences of each patient.

If you have for cancer of the stomach or esophagus, your plan may include any of these cancer treatment options.

Surgery
Radiation therapy
Chemotherapy
Radiation therapy and chemotherapy

Medical robot treats esophageal cancer

 More on robotic-assisted surgery

Found too late, esophageal cancer is often deadly. Found early enough, it can be treated with surgery. Abbott Northwestern Hospital is one of the few places in the United States where a surgical robot is being used to remove cancer from the esophagus.

Read the video transcript on kare11.com.


Source: Virginia Piper Cancer Institute
Reviewed by: Daniel Dunn, MD, medical director, Virginia Piper Cancer Institute Esophageal and Gastric Cancer Program
First Published: 10/29/2009
Last Reviewed: 10/29/2009

Stages of stomach and esophageal cancer

When diagnosed with stomach cancer or esophageal cancer, you will learn what stage the cancer is at. This can help you and your care team determine your goals, treatment options and outlook.

Our doctors use the TNM staging system to define the stages of stomach and esophageal cancer. In general, early stage cancers have a better prognosis than late stage cancers.

Classification

Stomach cancer stages

Esophageal cancer stages

T is for 'tumor'

T1 tumors start in the lining of the stomach.

T2 tumors have gone through the muscle but not outside the wall of the stomach.

T3 tumors are in the outside lining of the stomach wall (serosa).

T4 tumors have gone outside the stomach wall and into nearby organs or tissue.

T1 tumors are below the lining of the esophagus.

T2 tumors are in the muscular wall of the esophagus

T3 tumors are in the outer extent of the esophagus.

T4 tumors have gone through the wall of the esophagus into nearby areas such as the trachea (breathing tube).

N is for 'lymph' nodes.

N1 means cancer is in 1 to 6 lymph nodes near the stomach.

N2 means cancer is in 7 to 15 lymph nodes in the stomach region.

N3 means cancer is in more than 15 lymph nodes.

N0 means no lymph nodes have cancer.

N1 means there are lymph nodes with cancer cells

M is for 'metastatic' spread.

M0 means the cancer is only in the stomach.

M1 means the cancer has spread to the liver or other organs

M0 means the cancer is only in the esophagus.

M1 means the cancer has spread to other organs.

Tumors reach different layers of the stomach

medical illustration of the layers of the stomach and esophagus

The stomach has five layers:

  1. The mucosa is the inner layer or lining. It is made up of glands that secrete the juices that help digest food.
  2. The submucosa supports the inner layer.
  3. The muscle layer contracts and creates a rippling motion that mixes and mashes the food.
  4. The subserosa covers and supports the muscle layer.
  5. The serosa covers and holds the stomach in place.


Source: Virginia Piper Cancer Institute
Reviewed by: Daniel Dunn, MD, medical director, Virginia Piper Cancer Institute Esophageal and Gastric Cancer Program
First Published: 10/29/2009
Last Reviewed: 10/29/2009

Robotic-assisted surgery

Robotic-assisted surgery photo tour

The photo tour below will explain and illustrate what will happen during your surgery.

  1. To begin, click on the first image below.
  2. Select the "Next" button in the top right of the image to advance to the next image.

Medical robot treats esophageal cancer

Found too late, esophageal cancer is often deadly. Found early enough, it can be treated with surgery. Abbott Northwestern Hospital is one of the few places in the United States where a surgical robot is being used to remove cancer from the esophagus.

Read the video transcript on kare11.com.


Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Your Esophageal Cancer Surgery, surg-ahc-93825
Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts
First Published: 05/15/2009
Last Reviewed: 05/15/2009

Thorocoscopic-laproscopic surgery

Sometimes it is necessary for the surgeon to go through the chest to free up the esophagus. You may need this type of surgery if:

  • the location of your tumor is higher up in the esophagus
  • you have certain medical conditions that would make this type of surgery better for you
  • you have already had surgery in the chest or abdomen area.

Your surgeon will explain the reasons why this surgery is better for you.

Thoracoscopic incision sites


The ports are placed between your ribs in your right side. Your ports may be placed in slightly different locations.

Before surgery, you will receive medicine (anesthesia) to make you fall asleep. You will be placed on your left side.

The thoracic (chest) surgeon will lead this portion of surgery. Your right lung will be deflated for a short time so the surgeon can have better access to your esophagus.

The surgeon will make four incisions, each about one-half inch, on the right side of your chest. These incisions, or ports, are used for the video camera and instruments used during your surgery.



Moving the esophagus


Freeing up the esophagus is the first part of this surgery. You will then be placed on your back for the next part of the surgery.

The surgeon will loosen (or free up) the esophagus. When this part of the surgery is completed, a chest tube will be inserted to re-inflate your right lung.

The chest tube will remain in place for several days after surgery to make sure your lung remains inflated and to drain any fluid that might collect.


Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Your Esophageal Cancer Surgery, surg-ahc-93825
Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts
First Published: 05/15/2009
Last Reviewed: 05/15/2009