Esophageal cancer

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Laser surgery for esophageal cancer

Laser surgery is sometimes used to treat esophageal cancer. Laser surgery uses an intense, narrow beam of light (called a laser beam) to destroy cancer cells.

You may have laser surgery to relieve pain or to control the symptoms of advanced esophageal cancer (called palliative laser surgery). Laser surgery may be used along with other treatments, including external beam radiation therapy or photodynamic therapy, for advanced esophageal cancer.

Laser surgery can also be used to burn a hole through a blockage in the esophagus so you can swallow more easily. Difficulty swallowing is often relieved within 1–2 days of the procedure. Laser surgery can be repeated if the tumour grows larger and begins to cause difficulty swallowing again. The treatment may be repeated every 4–6 weeks.

The type of laser used to treat esophageal cancer is called a neodymium: yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Nd:yag) laser. The procedure is done through an endoscope.

Find out more about laser surgery. To make the decisions that are right for you, ask your healthcare team questions about laser surgery.

endoscope

A thin, tube-like instrument with a light and lens used to examine or treat organs or structures in the body.

An endoscope can be flexible or rigid. It may have a tool to remove tissue for examination. Specialized endoscopes may have tools designed to examine or treat specific organs or structures in the body.

Specialized endoscopes are named for the organ or structure they are used to examine or treat.

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Great progress has been made

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Some cancers, such as thyroid and testicular, have survival rates of over 90%. Other cancers, such as pancreatic, brain and esophageal, continue to have very low survival rates.

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