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Esophageal Cancer Treatment in Tacoma, WA

It can be easy to forget the importance of the esophagus in everyday life. This muscular tube is not only responsible for helping us to process our food, but is essential in completing simple functions like swallowing.

The formation of a cancerous tumor within the esophagus can cause a range of problematic symptoms. Fortunately, the specialists at Northwest Medical Specialties have many years of experience in effectively treating many of these symptoms as well as esophageal cancer.

Causes and Risk Factors of Esophageal Cancer

Like most cancers, esophageal cancer is caused by mutated cell growth. These cells may begin in one area of the body, but also have the possibility of spreading to other regions, which is called metastasization.

Esophageal cancer is considerably prevalent worldwide, though certain geographic locations show a higher case rate than others. This form of cancer is often seen in both Asia and Africa, but is less common within the United States. Of course, anyone in the world still has the potential to develop esophageal cancer during their lifetime.

What Increases Your Risk?

There is no way to guarantee whether or not a particular person will encounter cancer of the esophagus, though a majority of patients with this condition possess one or more of the following attributes or lifestyle habits:

  • A history of using, or current use of tobacco products
  • A prior diagnosis of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Are 55 years of age or older
  • Have family members who developed esophageal cancer
  • Regular consumption of alcohol
  • A lack of sufficient fruits and vegetables in their diet
  • Are obese
  • Precancerous cells of the esophagus (Barrett’s esophagus)
  • Received radiation treatment to the chest
  • An existing case of HPV
  • Are male
  • Have celiac disease
  • Dysfunction of the esophageal sphincter (achalasia)

Obviously, not all of these influential factors are within a patient’s control. While you may not be able to do anything about your age or genetic makeup, there are certainly other ways to lower your risk for esophageal cancer.

Common Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer

Being aware of your potential risk for cancer of the esophagus can also help to increase your awareness of early signs and symptoms. It is always best to catch a case of esophageal cancer as soon as possible in order to improve your odds of beating the disease, making diagnosis a crucial piece to this complicated puzzle.

Since esophageal cancer results in the growth of a tumor within the esophagus, it is extremely common for individuals to experience increased difficulty while trying to consume various foods and beverages due to partial blockage of the esophagus. This typically results in problems with swallowing that may feel as though you are straining to push food down into the stomach. Other symptoms that are frequently associated with esophageal cancer include:

  • Changes in vocal tone or pitch
  • Recurring acid reflux
  • Vomiting
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Hiccups
  • Chest pain, or other generalized pain of the throat
  • Chronic coughing, which may even lead to bleeding of the esophagus

By thoroughly explaining any abnormal symptoms to your specialist, you can begin the process to diagnose and determine staging of the cancer. A definitive diagnosis is typically reached after your provider completes an endoscopy and/or biopsy of the esophagus. Once diagnostic testing has been performed and a case is identified, you and your physician will be able to explore the variety of treatment options available to our patients in the south puget area, and select the one that is best for you.

Treatment for Esophageal Cancer

In addition to determining which type and stage of esophageal a particular patient is in, it is also critical that our specialists consider the state of the person’s health before recommending any considerable treatment options. The existence of other medical conditions, plus the age of the patient, are both able to have a significant impact on the person’s ability to tolerate certain courses of treatment.

Chemotherapy and Radiation

These noninvasive options may be used either separately, or in combination with one another. Chemotherapy involves administering specially designed medications (usually by way of an oral pill or intravenously) that work to target and destroy any cancer cells within the body. Radiation is another common type of treatment that uses high-energy rays to eliminate these same types of cancerous cells.

Surgery for Esophageal Cancer

Patients may also elect for more aggressive solutions to surgically treat their cancer. At Northwest Medical Specialties, we offer the following surgical treatments for esophageal cancer:

Our providers also offer interventional assistance to help relieve symptoms of esophageal cancer, such as placing a stent within the esophagus to relieve issues of pressure and blockage from food.

Questions? Ask Our Specialists

If you believe you are experiencing symptoms of esophageal cancer, or would like to discuss your treatment options with a specialist, please contact Northwest Medical Specialties today to schedule a consultation!

HEALTH ALERT! For the safety of our patients and staff only patients will be allowed into our clinics and everyone MUST wear a mask. See additional information regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19).


Important COVID 19  Information for patients of Northwest Medical Specialties

November 16, 2020 Update

During these difficult times we are making every effort to keep our patients and staff safe from COVID 19, we appreciate your patience and understanding with the changes you may have seen within our practice.

We strive to protect our patients and staff as much as we possibly can from any exposure on our premises.  NWMS has implemented a system wide policy that does not allow anyone in the building that is not a patient and everyone must wear an NWMS provided mask over their mouth and nose during their time on our premises.  This is to protect our vulnerable patients from the unforeseen possibility of exposure to COVID 19 which can be transmitted through aerosol droplets.  Sadly, we have had patients that have died from the complications of COVID 19, which is both devastating and preventable.

We offer a virtual visit option for family, friends, and companions to participate in the care of our patients through Zoom.  Our staff will assist you with every step of the login process and invite you to participate in real time from your vehicle or designated safe space in our building. Please contact us at 253-428-8700 to set this up.

The following offices are temporarily closed:

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, please make sure to contact us via phone prior to your appointment. You may also contact us for any additional questions by calling our office at (253) 428-8700.

Here are a few additional resources as well:

World Health Organization

Centers for Disease Control