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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Esophageal Cancer

The esophagus is a long, hollow, muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach. Its purpose is to move food from the throat to the stomach so that digestion can proceed through the rest of the digestive tract. While cancer in this organ is relatively rare in the United States, the American Cancer Society reports that more than 16,000 cases are diagnosed annually in this country, and more than 14,000 deaths occur each year as a result of this disease. Risk factors include smoking, untreated gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and immoderate alcohol use. The disease is most often found in men older than fifty.

Internet Resources

Cancer.gov: Esophageal cancer
Provides access to authoritative documents from the National Cancer Institute, including information about treatment, supportive care and clinical trials.

MedlinePlus: Esophageal Cancer
Developed at the National Library of Medicine specifically for consumers, this site is a portal for both government-sponsored and privately developed health information for the lay public. Look for familiar locations like links to the American Cancer Society.

The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University at Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Contains information about the many services offered by the Lurie Cancer Center, one of thirteen founding members of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN).


  • 100 questions and answers about esophageal cancer. Ginex PK. 2009.
  • 100 questions & answers about Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): A Lahey Clinic Guide. Burns DL. 2007.
  • Gastrointestinal cancers: Gale encyclopedia of cancer. Longe J, ed. 2010. Available in print at the Health Learning Center or online at http://www.nmh.org/nm/health library virtual library.


  • “New endoscopic and surgical treatment options for early esophageal adenocarcinoma.” Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology. Gan S. 25(9):1478-84. Sept. 2010
  • “Screening, surveillance, and prevention for esophageal cancer.” Gastroenterology Clinics of North America. Tomizawa Y. March 2009. 38(1) 59-73.
  • “Fruit and vegetable intake and esophageal cancer in a large prospective cohort study.” International Journal of Cancer. Freedman ND. December 15, 2007. 121(12): 2753-60.
  • “Is there a link between diet and esophageal cancer?” Nature Clinical Practice Gastroenterology & Hepatology. Gallus S. January 2007. 4(1):2-3.


The Alberto Culver Health Learning Center has several models of the digestive system and various separate digestive organs. Check with a staff person or volunteer for assistance.


Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Alberto Culver Health Learning Center has joined forces with the American Cancer Society’s Patient Navigator Program to provide assistance to patients and families dealing with cancer. To take advantage of this unique service, provided by a licensed clinical social worker, call 312-926-4282.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the Alberto Culver Health Learning Center at 312-926-5465, or e-mail us at HLC@nmh.org.

Last UpdateOctober 30, 2012