Esophageal Cancer: Diagnosis & Treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering

Pictured: David Ilson Memorial Sloan Kettering’s multidisciplinary team collaborates on each patient’s treatment from the very beginning. Medical oncologist David Ilson discusses a case.

Memorial Sloan Kettering is home to more than 30 doctors and nurses who specialize exclusively in caring for people with esophageal cancer. Dedicated surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, gastroenterologists, radiologists, and pathologists work together closely to develop every patient’s treatment plan. We meet regularly to discuss individual patients and the latest advances in treatment.

This team approach is particularly important in the treatment of esophageal cancer, because it is often best managed using a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. Having representatives of many different disciplines involved in your care ensures that all possible approaches to your treatment will be considered, and that your care will be well coordinated and personalized to your specific needs.

Our Expertise


Every year 1.4 million people around the world are diagnosed with esophageal cancer, the majority of whom are from South America and China. David Ilson, a medical oncologist who specializes in esophageal cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, provides an overview of the disease, and discusses treatment options and clinical trials for people at any stage of esophageal cancer.

Memorial Sloan Kettering’s approach to diagnosing and treating esophageal cancer draws on the latest research breakthroughs and advances in clinical medicine.

  • Our team approach to care enables us to coordinate your treatment using multidisciplinary strategies.
  • We have developed a comprehensive surveillance program for people with Barrett’s esophagus, a condition that has been closely associated with esophageal cancer.
  • Our gastroenterologists use advances such as high-resolution endoscopy to examine the esophagus, detect precancerous lesions or early-stage cancers, and remove them with endoscopic mucosal resection or ablate them with thermal energy such as radio frequency, thereby reducing the need for surgery in selected patients. 
  • Our surgeons are experts in minimally invasive surgical procedures that can limit injury to the ribs and muscles in the chest, including video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) and robotic surgery.
  • Our radiation oncologists are innovators in the use of highly precise technologies for shrinking tumors while avoiding injury to healthy tissue.
  • We are increasingly using molecular and genetic information to determine the treatment approaches that are most likely to be effective for individual patients.
  • Because Memorial Sloan Kettering has experts in all disciplines that are important for the treatment of esophageal cancer, we can provide therapies for all stages of disease, from precancerous lesions to metastatic cancer.

Clinical Trials

In addition, Memorial Sloan Kettering’s patient care program is complemented by our extensive esophageal cancer research effort. Our doctors are lead investigators in clinical trials to test new therapies and diagnostic methods for esophageal cancer. This means that choosing Memorial Sloan Kettering for your care may enable you to gain access to new, experimental treatments and diagnostic approaches that are not widely available at other hospitals.