Treatments for stage 0 esophageal cancer

The following are treatment options for stage 0 esophageal cancer. Your healthcare team will suggest treatments based on your needs and work with you to develop a treatment plan.


You may be offered an esophagectomy for stage 0 esophageal cancer. This surgery removes all or part of the esophagus. Sometimes part of the stomach is removed as well.

Endoscopic treatments

You may be offered an endoscopic treatment for stage 0 esophageal cancer.

Endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) or endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD) remove the inner layer, or mucosa, of the esophagus. You may be offered EMR or ESD to treat small, very early stage tumours that are only in the mucosa and have not grown deeper into the layers of the esophagus.

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) uses a high-frequency electrical current to destroy cancer cells. You may be offered RFA as an alternative to surgery for stage 0 esophageal cancers, so that the esophagus doesn't have to be removed. It is often used after EMR to make sure all the cancer cells have been removed from the area.

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses a photosensitizer drug to make cells sensitive to light. You may be offered PDT if you cannot have other endoscopic treatments. It may also be used to remove abnormal areas that are left behind after EMR.

Clinical trials

Talk to your doctor about clinical trials open to people with esophageal cancer in Canada. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, find and treat cancer. Find out more about clinical trials.

Expert review and references

  • American Cancer Society. Esophagus Cancer. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society; 2013.
  • Esophageal cancer treatment options. American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Cancer.Net. Alexandria, VA.: American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO); 2013.
  • Baldwin, K. M. et al . Esophageal cancer treatment and management. Omaha: eMedicine, Inc; 2014.
  • BC Cancer Agency. Esophagus. Vancouver: BC Cancer Agency; 2012.
  • Esophageal and esophagogastric junction. BC Cancer Agency (BCCA). Cancer Management Guidelines. BC Cancer Agency; 2013.
  • Oesophageal cancer. Cancer Research UK. CancerHelp UK. Cancer Research UK; 2014.
  • Esophageal adenocarcinoma. Jankowiski J & Hawk E (eds.). Handbook of Gastrointestinal Cancer. Wiley-Blackwell; 2013: Chapter 2: pp. 25-40.
  • National Cancer Institute. Esophageal Cancer Treatment (PDQ®) Health Professional Version. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute; 2014.
  • Esophageal and esophagogastric junction cancers. National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology. National Comprehensive Cancer Network; 2013.
  • Siewert JR, Molls M, Zimmermann F, et al . Esophageal Cancer: Clinical Management. Kelsen, D. P., Daly, J. M., Kern, S. E., Levin, B., Tepper, J. E., & Van Cutsem, E. (eds.). Principles and Practice of Gastrointestinal Oncology. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008: 18: pp. 203-228.
  • Tian, J. and Wang, K. K . Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. Jankowiski J & Hawk E (eds.). Handbook of Gastrointestinal Cancer. Wiley-Blackwell; 2013: Chapter 1: pp. 1-24.