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Esophageal Masses

What is Esophageal Mass?

Esophageal cancer consists of malignant tumors found in the esophagus, which is the muscular tube extending from the throat to the stomach, through which food is passed to be digested. It is relatively uncommon in this country but if not treated can create problems throughout the body. Chronic irritation of the esophagus may be a contributing factor to its development.

There are two types of esophageal tumors, squamous cell carcinoma (tumor invasion that starts in the flat cells lining the esophagus) and adenocarcinoma (tumor arising in cells located at the bottom or gastric end of the esophagus). Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of esophageal cancer in the US. There has been an increase in the incidence rate associated with the widespread use of PPI therapy.

When the cancer in the esophagus has not spread to other parts of the body, the standard treatment is surgery. However, depending on the size and location of the mass, preoperative chemo and radiation therapy may be recommended. The objective of surgery is to remove the diseased part of the esophagus.


  • Pain or sensations of food catching when swallowing
  • Difficulty swallowing liquids or food
  • Chest pain that is not connected with eating
  • Weight loss due to eating less
  • Heartburn
  • Vomiting Blood
  • Persistent cough


It has been studied that the main causes of esophageal tumors are attributed to alcohol consumption, smoking, obesity, acid reflux, and Barrett's esophagus.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options:

Examinations used to detect esophageal tumors are barium swallows, MRI/CT scans, or upper endoscopies (esophagogastroduodenoscopy or EGD). Treatment options for esophageal tumors include:

  • Surgery – specifically, esophagectomy or removal of the esophagus
  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy
  • A combination of the two (most common)

Definitive Treatment:

An esophagectomy is the surgical procedure to definitively treat esophageal tumors. With this procedure, part or the entire esophagus is removed and then replaced with either part of the stomach or colon.

"Laparoscopically assisted" esophagectomy is a surgical approach to treat esophageal cancer through several small incisions in the abdomen using laparoscopic instruments. Laparoscopically-assisted esophagectomy is encouraged for treatment of cancer and it is efficacious even after failures of other treatments. This less invasive approach is favored, because it is as efficacious and promotes a faster recovery. If you'd like more information on this type of surgical laparoscopic technique, call and schedule your appointment to discuss your condition.

With the addition of Robotics, we are now able to apply the robotic approach to esophagectomies. The assistance of the robot allows us to have access to hard to reach portions while still being minimally invasive.

The Usual course with Esophageal Cancer is to:

  1. Diagnosis
  2. Choose the therapy best for that condition: this often involves surgery as well as chemotherapy and radiation therapy
  3. There is a 4-week window to recover if chemotherapy is required prior to surgery
  4. Studies for restaging after chemotherapy and radiation
  5. Then the operation is undertaken, preferably a minimally invasive one (e.g., laparoscopic, robotic)

For low stage esophageal cancer, an operation may be the first treatment.

What to Expect After an Operation for Esophageal Cancer:

Some patients but not all experience one or more of the listed symptoms below, depending on technique and procedure used:

  1. Hoarseness and/or sore throat
  2. Inability to sing, hum, or make high pitch sounds
  3. A diet progressing from clear liquids to a normal diet; as tolerated
  4. Sensation of feeling full (early satiety)
  5. Diarrhea due to the reconstruction of your GI tract causing rapid transit of your food.
  6. Bloating – especially if your cancer was caused by acid reflux, you may have a learned behavior of dry swallowing causing excess air in the abdomen. This will dissipate as you participate in the behavior less.
  7. Nausea and/or vomiting may occur after surgery for 1-2 days. This is usually related to general anesthesia administered during the operation.
  8. Discomfort at the incision site for 1-7 days. If, however, you notice the incision to have redness, is hot to the touch, has discharge, increased pain, and/or fever, please call the office or come to our emergency room.
  9. Many patients are discharged with a drain resembling a grenade in the neck or abdomen. This is to prevent fluid from accumulating under your skin and to assure there is no leak. Most patients will have this removed prior to discharge or at their first postoperative visit.

Dr. Sharona Ross and Dr. Alexander Rosemurgy

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with esophageal tumor/cancer and need surgery as a treatment for the disease, we urge you to consult with us at our office at your earliest opportunity. We serve patients in the greater Tampa area as well as those throughout the state of Florida. Dr. Sharona Ross and Dr. Alexander Rosemurgy and their surgical team are experienced in performing advanced upper GI, pancreatic, gallbladder, and liver surgeries.

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Sharona Ross, M.D. - Tampa Laparoscopic Surgeon
Located at 3000 Medical Park Dr, Suite 500 Tampa, FL 33613. View Map
Phone: (813) 615-7030