Esophageal Cancer

Dr. John Hunter enjoys talking with patients
Dr. John Hunter (left) developed the surgery that has become the cornerstone treatment for many patients with esophageal cancer.

Esophageal cancer is a rare condition that requires expert care. The OHSU Knight Cancer Institute is nationally recognized for our experience in treating patients with this type of cancer. We offer you: 

  • Deep expertise in all types of treatment used for this condition.
  • A team approach where doctors work together to support you.
  • A culture of innovation where we offer access to clinical trials and the latest technology.
  • Holistic care, backed by the resources of a major research university.

Our expertise

We have outstanding breadth and depth of experience in esophageal cancer. Our surgical team performs the esophagectomy procedure, which is the cornerstone surgery for this condition, between 40-60 times a year. (It’s pronounced “ess-awe-fah-JECT-oh-mee.”)

But surgery is not the beginning or the end of your treatment. It’s likely that you will need other types of therapy. We have specialists in:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Nutrition

    Top minds together

    Specialists in these fields meet together every other week at a tumor board to look at every new case of esophageal cancer. At this meeting, doctors pool their knowledge, going over test results and treatment options one patient at a time. Experts include: 

    • Surgeons schooled in the latest techniques and technology. 
    • Medical oncologists, who treat cancer with drugs. 
    • Radiation oncologists, who treat cancer with radiation.
    • Radiologists, who read scans to see the size and location of tumors.
    • Pathologists, who are skilled in diagnosing tumors under the microscope.
    • A nurse navigator, who can guide you through every step of your treatment.
    • A patient advocate. Our patient advocate is an esophageal cancer survivor and former surgeon. They can offer you information and encouragement. 

      The latest technology and techniques

      We’re constantly seeking new ways to help our patients:

      • Clinical trials: The Knight Cancer Institute is a leader in conducting clinical trials to test new treatments. Trials offer access to new therapies before they are widely available.
      • Surgery: The cornerstone of treatment for esophageal cancer, minimally invasive esophagectomy (with small incisions), was developed right here by surgeon John Hunter. We have developed a strong team-based approach to this procedure to improve outcomes, speed recovery and reduce pain.
      • Radiation therapy: We use advanced technology to target cancer with powerful doses of radiation while sparing healthy tissue.
      • Immunotherapy: New research suggests that immunotherapy can help some patients with advanced esophageal cancer. We are currently conducting a clinical trial to see if immunotherapy can help more patients.
      • Cancer registry: Our database helps scientists explore new ways to find and treat esophageal cancer. Learn more about OHSU cancer registries.

        Holistic treatment

        Esophageal cancer is a complex condition. From diagnosis to treatment and monitoring, your relationship with us may span five years or more. We are with you for the long haul.

        We also offer a full range of support services, including:

        • Nutrition services
        • Social workers
        • Support groups
        • Palliative care

        Learn more about our resources for you and your family..

        For patients

        Call 503-494-7999 to:

        • Request an appointment
        • Seek a second opinion
        • Ask questions


        Knight Cancer Institute, South Waterfront

        Center for Health & Healing, Building 2
        3485 S. Bond Ave.
        Portland, OR 97239

        Free parking for patients and visitors

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        Stay informed

        Blog: Learn about the latest findings on our Cancer Translated blog.

        News: Read about research breakthroughs, patient care and many other topics on our OHSU News site.