Surgery is commonly used to treat esophageal cancer that has not spread beyond the esophagus and its surrounding lymph nodes.

The goal of the operation is to remove the cancer and nearby tissue that may be affected. In an esophagectomy, the surgeon removes part of the esophagus, nearby lymph nodes, and possibly part of the stomach. The remaining part of the esophagus is then connected to the stomach.

Some patients are candidates for minimally invasive surgery, an approach that utilizes smaller incisions to remove the cancer. Benefits of minimally invasive surgery include less pain, less scarring, and a quicker recovery after surgery. University of Chicago surgeons are pioneers in minimally invasive surgery for esophageal cancer.

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An esophagectomy is major surgery, and should be done by surgeons who have experience performing the procedure.

Studies show that patients who have esophagectomies at hospitals that perform the procedure more frequently fare better than those who go to hospitals with less experience. At the University of Chicago Hospitals, surgeons from both the Section of General Surgery and the Section of Thoracic Surgery are experts in esophageal cancer surgery.

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