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A doctor examines a man's neck

An esophageal cancer recurrence happens after a patient completes a round of treatment and no cancer cells are detected, but then develops another tumor several months or years later. If the recurrence happens at the site of the original cancer, is it considered a local recurrence; if it happens near the site of the original cancer but not in the same place, it is considered a regional recurrence; if it occurs elsewhere in the body, it is considered a distant recurrence. 

When physicians treat an esophageal cancer recurrence, several factors are taken into consideration. For instance:

  • If the cancer comes back in the esophagus and surgery was not performed as part of the initial treatment plan, an oncologist may recommend an operation to remove part or all of the esophagus.
  • If the cancer comes back in the esophagus but the patient has already had surgery or is not healthy enough to undergo surgery, an oncologist may recommend chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination of both. 
  • If the patient has already received chemotherapy, an oncologist may recommend a different combination of drugs for the second round of treatment.
  • If the cancer comes back in a different part of the body, such as the lungs or the liver, it will be treated as a stage IV cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be used to help control symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life.

Certain patients with an esophageal cancer recurrence may also consider enrolling in clinical trials. Clinical trials are used to test promising new therapies; through these studies, patients can access exploratory treatments that aren’t yet available to the general public.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we have a robust clinical trial program that has helped us earn the elite designation of Comprehensive Cancer Center from the National Cancer Institute. Additionally, our oncologists are experienced in treating all types and stages of esophageal cancer, including recurrent cancers that have come back after a first course of treatment. We offer a complete range of treatments under one roof, and we never require a referral.

To meet with one of our oncologists about treatment for an esophageal cancer recurrence, call 1-888-663-3488 or schedule an appointment online.