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Oesophageal Cancer

diagnosis · treatment · research

What oesophageal cancer is

Oesophageal cancer is a malignant tumour derived from the mucosal cells of the oesophagus.

Most oesophageal cancers occur in the lower third of the oesophagus and at the junction with the stomach (gastro-oesophageal junction).
Like most cancers of the digestive tract, this malignant tumour can grow in three ways:

Local growth occurs when there is a deep intrusion of the tumour through the oesophageal wall (from inside to outside). It can affect the surrounding organs, which will be different depending on the location of the tumour in the oesophagus (upper, middle or lower third).

The oesophagus has a rich network of lymphatic vessels that allow lymph to drain to multiple lymph node regions. Tumours in the cervical part (upper third) of the oesophagus drain to the lymph nodes in the neck, at the supraclavicular level (above the clavicles) and to the lymph node chains in the mediastinum (the anatomical area between the two lungs, where important structures such as the heart, trachea, oesophagus, and great vessels are located).

Tumours in the thracic and abdominal parts (lower two thirds) tend to drain to lymph nodes located along the entire mediastinum, as well as gastric and hepatic nodes.

Disease is spread through the blood vessels, particularly to the liver and lungs.

Treatment of oesophageal cancer at the IVO

IVO Digestive Tumours Committee

The Digestive Tumours Committee is made up of a multidisciplinary team of expert professionals.

General and Digestive Surgery Service

The General and Digestive Surgery Service deals with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of oesophageal cancer.

Medical Oncology Service

The Service's team of professionals accompanies cancer patients throughout the whole disease process.

Clinical trials

The current way we have of advancing and improving cancer treatment is through what we call "clinical trials".

A clinical trial is a research study carried out on people with the aim of learning more about how the body reacts to certain treatments. These trials generally seek to find drugs that are more effective than the current best therapeutic option for patients, or that have similar efficacy but a better toxicity profile.

Bearing in mind that almost all currently available treatments are the result of clinical research, the importance of clinical trials is obvious.

The IVO has a clinical trials unit for all types of tumours and participates in phase 1-3 studies as well as other types of studies.

Living with oesophageal cancer

coping with the diagnosis and receiving treatment and psychological support

Whether you receive the news of an initial diagnosis of cancer or a relapse, coping with cancer can be emotionally overwhelming. Each person has their own way of coping with an oesophageal cancer diagnosis, but there are some recommendations that can help you through this process:

  • Maintain communication and the company of family and friends, the people closest to the patient, who can provide a support network throughout the process
  • Talk to other people who have survived cancer or who are in the same situation. There are many local and national associations and support groups. The Spanish Association Against Cancer (Asociación Española Contra el Cáncer) is perhaps the best-known one.
  • Inform yourself in order to make the best decisions about treatment and medical professionals.

Early Diagnosis

Nuclear Medicine


Radiation Therapy