Esophageal Cancer

At the UCLA Robert G. Kardashian Center for Esophageal Health, we combine expertise and innovation to create the ideal healing environment for people with an esophageal cancer diagnosis.

Esophageal cancer, 3D illustration showing malignant tumor in the human esophagus
Esophagus illustration

Why choose UCLA Health for esophageal cancer support?

As part of the Robert G. Kardashian Center for Esophageal Health, UCLA Health’s Esophageal Cancer Program is the epicenter of specialized care. By trusting us with your care, you will receive:

Expertise in complex esophageal cancers: Our skilled specialists know esophageal cancer, inside and out. That’s why hospitals around the country refer patients to us.

Comprehensive care delivered with empathy: You’ll receive thorough care and compassionate support from our team of esophageal cancer specialists.

Access to groundbreaking research: As an academic medical center, we have access to the latest research and technology. We are constantly searching for better ways to detect and treat esophageal cancer.

High-quality care at multiple locations: You can receive esophageal cancer treatments and services at our community cancer care centers located across the greater Los Angeles region. UCLA Health is proud to offer leading-edge cancer support, close to your home.

Our services

Our goal is to spot esophageal cancer in its early stages so treatments will be more effective. Swallowing difficulty is usually the first sign that something is wrong. Count on UCLA Health for:

Esophageal cancer diagnosis

If you are having trouble swallowing, your physician may order one or more of the following tests:

Advanced imaging: Imaging such as CT or positron emission tomography (PET) scans to determine if cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Barium swallow: A test that combines an X-ray and barium, a thick, radioactive liquid that coats and outlines the esophagus when swallowed. The barium enhances X-ray images, allowing your doctor to see tumors and cancerous tissues more clearly.

Endoscopic ultrasound: A test to determine how advanced the cancer is and if it has spread to other parts of the body.

Esophageal pH testing: A test to measure how long stomach acid stays in the esophagus. A high volume of acid can indicate chronic acid reflux, which can lead to esophageal cancer. 

High-resolution impedance esophageal manometry: A test to measure the pressure in your esophagus to determine if it is functioning properly.

Esophagoscopy: A diagnostic test in which a specialist inserts a thin tool with a lighted tip, called an endoscope, through your mouth and throat to view your esophagus. 

Biopsy: A procedure to remove a small sample of your esophageal tissue with an endoscope. Laboratory specialists examine the sample for cancer cells.

Esophageal cancer support

Finding the right support can be as important as receiving the right treatment. We offer:

Simms/Mann-UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology: Our center provides countless resources to help ease the burden of cancer. You’ll find workshops on helpful topics, from mind-body healing to stress management strategies and more. Explore our services.

Speech therapy: A speech pathologist can help you regain strength in your mouth and throat muscles after surgery. Special exercises improve your ability to swallow and speak.

Nutritional counseling: The esophagus plays an integral role in the body’s ability to receive nutrition. Our dietitians help you get the nutrition you need when it’s difficult to swallow.

Esophageal cancers we treat

Our experts successfully treat some of the most difficult esophageal cancer cases. The two main types include:

Esophageal adenocarcinoma: The most common form of esophageal cancer in the United States, it grows in the mucus-producing cells that line the esophagus. This form of cancer usually occurs in the lower part of the esophagus.

Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma: Squamous cell carcinoma starts in the squamous cells, which line the esophagus. This form of cancer usually occurs in the middle to upper part of the esophagus.

Treatments we offer

UCLA Health offers both nonsurgical and surgical treatments for esophageal cancer, including:

Nonsurgical esophageal cancer treatment

Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor may create a plan that involves one or more treatments:

Chemotherapy: The use of drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy is often used to shrink tumors prior to surgery.

Radiation therapy: A procedure that uses high-energy radiation beams to kill cancerous tissue, shrink tumors prior to surgery or destroy remaining cancer cells after surgery.

Clinical trials: Studies of promising esophageal cancer treatments that are not yet available to the public.

Esophageal cancer surgery

Depending on the stage of cancer, your surgeon may recommend surgery. Our experts specialize in:

Cryotherapy: A procedure in which the surgeon freezes and kills precancerous tissues by applying extremely cold liquid nitrogen.

Endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR): A minimally invasive surgery to remove tumors or early stage cancerous tissues.

Esophagectomy: A surgery to remove the part of the esophagus that contains cancer. Esophagectomy may cure early stage disease or relieve problematic symptoms of later-stage cancer.

Stent surgery: A procedure performed in later-stage cancers to implant a scaffold-like device (stent) into the esophagus. The stent helps keep the esophagus open and relieve swallowing difficulties.

Meet the team

Our esophageal cancer specialists provide patient-centered care based on the latest esophageal cancer science. UCLA Health providers are board certified and have years of experience treating esophageal cancer.

Contact us

Call 833-373-7674 to request an appointment with an esophageal cancer specialist at UCLA Health.

Find your care

Our esophageal cancer experts create a care plan that’s right for you. For more information, connect with a cancer care specialist at 833-373-7674.