• By Dana Sparks

Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast: Esophageal cancer is one of the deadliest cancers

April 5, 2021
a close-up of an older man with his hand to his throat, looking very uncomfortable, perhaps feeling something is stuck in his throat

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, 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.

Watch: Dr. Blackmon discusses risks, causes, symptoms and treatments for esophageal cancer.

Read the full transcript.

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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.