Commonly referred to as the “food pipe,” the esophagus is a layered muscular tube that connects the back of the throat to the stomach. Its job is to carry food and liquid from the mouth to the stomach for digestion. Cancer of the esophagus (also known as esophageal cancer) develops when malignant (cancerous) cells begin to grow in one of the tube’s layers. Esophageal cancer accounts for about 1% of all new cancer diagnoses in the United States each year.
"External beam radiation is one of the modalities used to treat esophageal cancer," says Kimberly Johung, MD, a Yale Medicine radiation oncologist. At Yale Medicine, all patients with esophageal cancer receive personalized care from a team of specialists including surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and gastroenterologists who meet weekly at a multidisciplinary tumor board conference to discuss each patient's care plan. "Patients are also considered for clinical trials, which along with other research endeavors aim to improve outcomes after a diagnosis of esophageal cancer," says Dr. Johung.