Cervical Esophageal Cancer

The cervical esophagus is the top part of the feeding tube (esophagus) that extends from the bottom of the throat (hypopharynx) to the thoracic esophagus, which travels through the chest and ends in the stomach. Because it starts in the neck, cervical esophageal cancer will be grouped with throat cancers by many doctors.

Esophageal cancer is typically treated by a team that might be a little different than most other head and neck cancer teams. The esophagus is part of the gastrointestinal tract (food tract), and the esophagus starts in the neck but travels through the chest into the abdomen. Also, staging esophageal cancer requires special tests, such as endoscopic ultrasound, that a head and neck surgeon typically does not perform. Because of this, your head and neck surgeon will call upon the expertise of either a gastroenterologist or a thoracic surgeon. This is in addition to a team of radiation oncologists and medical oncologists.

In the U.S., most esophageal cancers are adenocarcinomas and are located in the lower part of the esophagus. Here we are focusing on cervical (or upper) esophagus cancers. These are almost always squamous cell carcinomas, though there have been reports of adenocarcinoma in the cervical esophagus as well.


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