Surgical Treatments

University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center Offers Multiple Surgical Options for Effective Esophageal Cancer Treatment

In addition to radiation or chemotherapy, surgery may be used to treat esophageal cancer from the beginning to the advanced stages. At UH Seidman Cancer Center, our expert surgeons often perform an esophagectomy to treat esophageal cancer.


This surgery involves removing all or part of the esophagus, along with any nearby affected lymph nodes and surrounding tissue. During the procedure, the patient’s stomach or large intestine is pulled up into the chest and attached to the remaining portion of the esophagus to form his or her new digestive tract.

At UH Seidman Cancer Center, our surgeons perform three types of esophagectomy:

  • Tri-incisional esophagectomy: an open surgery technique in which incisions are made in the upper abdomen, right side of the chest and lower neck;
  • Transhiatal esophagectomy: a surgical procedure in which incisions are made in the neck and abdomen only; and
  • Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) esophagectomy: a minimally invasive surgery in which small incisions are made in the abdomen, chest and lower neck.

Both transhiatal and video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery esophagectomies offer advantages over open surgery methods, which include reduced pain during recovery, a shorter hospital stay and a quicker return to normal activities. However, not all esophageal cancer patients are eligible for these procedures.

The type of surgery performed depends mostly on the location of cancer. The thoracic patient care team at UH Seidman Cancer Center evaluates each patient’s condition and medical history to determine the best surgical option. Following surgery, patients can expect to remain in the hospital for 2 to 7 days.

The following complications may occur after surgery:

  • Leaking of food from the digestive tract
  • Delayed gastric emptying of food
  • Pneumonia
  • Infection
  • Breathing problems
  • Bleeding
  • Temporary hoarseness
  • Esophageal narrowing caused by scarring

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