Esophageal and Stomach Cancer Program

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The Esophageal and Stomach Cancer Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi brings together a multidisciplinary team of gastroenterologists, oncologists and surgeons. Using the most sophisticated diagnostic tests, our team works together to provide an individualized care plan for each patient.  

Esophageal and stomach cancer can affect swallowing and therefore impact quality of life. Therefore, we work alongside a team of supportive services, including nurses, pain management specialists, social workers and dieticians.

Esophageal and Stomach Cancer Program
  • Why Choose Us?
  • What We Treat
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis & Treatment
  • Prevention & Screening
  • Program Caregivers

Why Choose Us?

We work in close collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic US’s esophageal cancer program, working together to explore the best medical and surgical options to ensure the most successful outcome for each patient.  

Our multidisciplinary tumor board meets weekly to review each patient case individually. Specialists in thoracic and gastrointestinal cancer sit together to discuss clinical management decisions and tailor treatment plans to their patients’ needs, seeking to further improve cancer care. This tumor board and multidisciplinary approach to total care means our patients get the benefit of several expert opinions for their diagnosis, treatment, and overall care. We also work closely with the patient and their family to provide the best chance of cure with a focus on improving quality-of-life. 


What We Treat

The Esophageal and Stomach Cancer Program treats the following conditions: 

  • Esophageal cancer 
  • Early esophageal cancer  
  • Squamous cell esophageal cancer 
  • Esophageal adenocarcinoma 
  • Stomach cancer  
  • Gastric cardiac cancers 
  • Neuroendocrine tumors 
  • Superficial esophageal cancer 
  • Gastric submucosal tumors 
  • Precancerous lesions of the esophagus 
  • All tumors of the stomach including gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST)

Symptoms, Causes & Risk Factors

Symptoms of Esophageal and Stomach Cancer 

Signs and symptoms of esophageal cancer can include: 

  • Difficulty swallowing  
  • Weight loss  
  • Chest pain, pressure or burning 
  • Indigestion or heartburn 
  • Coughing or hoarseness 

Signs and symptoms of stomach cancer can include: 

  • Difficulty swallowing 
  • Feeling full and bloated after eating 
  • Heartburn or indigestion  
  • Nausea 
  • Stomach pain and vomiting  
  • Weight loss 

Causes & Risk Factors of Esophageal and Stomach Cancer 

Doctors don’t know what exactly causes esophageal and stomach cancer but there are several factors that might put you at an increased risk of developing either disease.  

When the cells in the esophagus or stomach develop changes (mutations) in their DNA which cause them to divide out of control, it leads to cancer. These changes cause abnormal cells to accumulate and form a tumor, which can invade nearby structures and spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. 

It is thought that persistent irritation in the esophagus might lead to changes which cause esophageal cancer. Factors that cause irritation include: 

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) 
  • Smoking 
  • Being obese 
  • Drinking alcohol 
  • Precancerous changes in the cells of the esophagus (Barrett's esophagus) 
  • Bile reflux 
  • Previous radiation therapy on the chest or upper abdomen 

Factors that increase your risk of developing stomach cancer include: 

  • GERD 
  • Smoking 
  • Obesity 
  • A diet high in salty and smoked foods and low in fruits and vegetables 
  • Family history of stomach cancer 
  • Long-term stomach inflammation (gastritis) 
  • Stomach polyps 
  • Infection with Helicobacter pylori 

Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosis of Esophageal and Stomach Cancer

Tests and procedures used to diagnose esophageal and stomach cancer include:

  • Endoscopy: A thin, flexible tube with a camera at the end is passed down into your esophagus or stomach and allows your doctor to look for cancer or areas of irritation.
  • Biopsy: A sample of tissue is collected from the esophagus or stomach using a special scope, which is then sent to a laboratory to look for cancer cells.
  • Imaging tests:
  • CT Scans: Can look for stomach cancer.
  • X-ray: A special type of x-ray exam called a barium swallow, which involves swallowing a barium-containing liquid to show up any tissue changes.
  • PET scan: A whole body scan to check if tumor is localized or has spread to other areas.

Once a diagnosis confirms cancer, your doctor may perform further tests to determine the stage of the cancer and the most appropriate type of treatment. These tests might include:

  • Blood tests
  • Endoscopic ultrasound
  • Further imaging tests
  • Exploratory surgery

Treatment of Esophageal and Stomach Cancer

Treatment will depend on the type of cancer you have, where the cancer is located, its stage and your overall health and treatment preferences.

  • Surgery: There are many types of surgery that can be performed, including many minimally invasive approaches (laparoscopic and robotic) which aim to remove the cancer and affected tissue. Surgery can be used alone, or in combination with other treatments.
  • Chemotherapy: The use of anticancer drugs, sometimes in combination, to stop the growth of cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy: Given to destroy cancer cells or to relieve pain or discomfort.
  • Targeted therapy: Focusing on specific weaknesses within cancer cells which when blocked, can cause cancer cells to die.
  • Immunotherapy: A treatment that uses your own immune system to fight the cancer.  

Prevention & Screening

There are things you can do to reduce your risk of esophageal and stomach cancer, including: 

  • Stopping smoking: Smoking increases your risk of esophageal, stomach and many other types of cancer. Quitting can be difficult, so ask your doctor for support. 
  • Maintaining a healthy weight: If you are overweight, aim to lose weight at a slow and steady rate.  
  • Choosing a healthier diet: Aim to increase your fruit and vegetable intake and reduce the amount of salty and processed foods you eat.  

Talk to your doctor about your risk of developing esophageal and stomach cancer. If you have a strong family history of either disease, they may recommend tests, such as endoscopy, to look for early signs. 


Program Caregivers

Caregivers supporting the Esophageal and Stomach Cancer Program include:

  • Gastroenterologists
  • Surgeons
  • Radiologists
  • Interventional Radiologists
  • Radiation Oncologists
  • Medical Oncologists
  • Advanced Endoscopists
  • Pain Management Specialists
  • Dieticians and Nutrition Services
  • Speech Therapists.

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