Esophageal cancer is one of the deadliest cancers

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

By Dana Sparks

The sixth most common cause of cancer deaths world-wide, esophageal cancer occurs in the esophagus — a long, hollow tube that runs from the throat to the stomach — and can occur anywhere along the esophagus. Men are more likely to develop esophageal cancer than women. While treatable, esophageal cancer is rarely curable.

"It's an uncommon cancer," says Dr. Shanda Blackmon, a Mayo Clinic general thoracic surgeon. "But it's one of the deadliest cancers we know."

Dr. Blackmon says survival rates are improving, but many people don't realize they have esophageal cancer until it's in the advanced stages.

In this "Mayo Clinic Q&A" podcast video, Dr. Blackmon discusses the risks, causes, symptoms and advances in treatments for esophageal cancer. She also explains what patients can expect with a diagnostic endoscopy and describes a new technique at Mayo Clinic that involves dropping a sponge down the patient's esophagus:


For the safety of its patients, staff and visitors, Mayo Clinic has strict masking policies in place. Anyone shown without a mask was either recorded prior to COVID-19 or recorded in a nonpatient care area where social distancing and other safety protocols were followed.

A version of this article was originally published on the Mayo Clinic News Network.

Learn more

Learn more about esophageal cancer and find an esophageal cancer clinical trial at Mayo Clinic.

Join the Esophageal Cancer Group on Mayo Clinic Connect or a virtual Esophageal Cancer Support Meeting.