Esophageal Cancer

Dr. John Hunter with patient in clinic
Dr. John Hunter (left), a cancer surgeon, is among our expert doctors who care for esophageal cancer patients. Our providers work in teams, sharing expertise for each patient. Dr. Hunter is also executive vice president of OHSU.

At the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, you will receive care from one of the country’s most experienced esophageal cancer teams. We offer you: 

  • Surgical care that’s among the best in the country, with minimally invasive techniques pioneered at OHSU.
  • Doctors who are experts in every aspect of diagnosing and treating esophageal cancer. 
  • A team approach, with a range of specialists working together on your care.
  • A nurse coordinator and patient advocate so you know what to expect at every step.

Our excellence

National recognition: We are the only cancer center between Seattle and Sacramento with the National Cancer Institute’s top designation for research excellence.

Commitment to research: Knight Cancer Institute experts are nationally recognized for advancing esophageal cancer care. Our providers have published dozens of studies on esophageal cancer in medical journals. 

Safe surgery: Our program ranks among top performers for preventing surgical complications. We also excel in treating complex cancers in hard-to-reach areas of the esophagus.

Dr. Charles Lopez in white coat, smiling
Dr. Charles Lopez is a medical oncologist (a doctor who treats cancer with
medications) who is also on the front lines of research.

Coordinated care

Team-based care: We are the only program in Oregon with an esophageal cancer tumor board that meets every other week. Specialists meet to pool their knowledge, going over test results and treatment options one patient at a time. Experts might include: 

  • Cancer surgeons, with training at some of the nation’s top cancer centers. 
  • Medical oncologists, who treat cancer using medications. 
  • Radiation oncologists, who treat cancer using radiation therapy.
  • Thoracic surgeons, who specialize in surgical treatments in the chest, including the esophagus.
  • Radiologists, who do imaging tests to see the size and location of tumors.
  • Pathologists, who study tissue samples (biopsies) under a microscope to confirm a cancer diagnosis and see how aggressive the cancer might be.

Help navigating your treatment: Our nurse coordinator arranges every step of your care, including additional testing and follow-up appointments. 

Access to other specialists: You will have access to world-class providers across OHSU. They include critical care doctors, interventional radiologists and vascular surgeons. 
If you need a large section of esophagus removed, interventional radiologists can place a mesh tube (stent) to support the esophagus as it heals.

Compassion and support: Our patient advocate is an esophageal cancer survivor and former surgeon. Your advocate can offer information and encouragement at any point in your care. 

Additional services: We offer a broad range of support services. Social workers can help find transportation to and from appointments, for example. Cancer dietitians can help you with nutrition and eating. 

Nurse practitioner Erica Degenhardt, smiling
Nurse practitioner Erica Degenhardt is among providers for patients with
cancers of the digestive system.

The latest technology and techniques

Minimally invasive surgery: We do hundreds of minimally invasive procedures on the esophagus each year. These surgeries use small incisions, so you have less pain and  quicker recovery.

Radiation therapy: Our technologies enable us to target cancer with higher doses while sparing healthy tissue. They include 3D conformal radiation therapy and intensity-modulated radiation therapy.

Clinical trials and research

Clinical trials: The Knight Cancer Institute is a leader in groundbreaking clinical trials to test new treatments. These offer access to new therapies before they are widely available. 

Esophageal cancer registry: Our database of information and tissue samples helps scientists explore new ways to find and treat esophageal cancer. Learn more about this and other OHSU cancer registries.

Early detection: The Knight Cancer Institute is a world center for research on finding cancer early. Hundreds of scientists at our Cancer Early Detection Advanced Research Center are working to find cancer when it’s most curable.

State-of-the-art facilities: The 320,000-square-foot Knight Cancer Research Building, which opened in 2018, houses our early-detection efforts. The building is specifically designed to encourage scientists to work together.  

For patients

Call 503-494-7999 to:

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


Parking is free for patients and their visitors.

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

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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.