Esophageal Center

The mission of the Esophageal Center of Excellence, led by program director Donald Low, MD, is to provide extraordinary care and service to complex esophageal disease patients using a multidisciplinary team approach.

Virginia Mason has a long history of excellence in the care of esophageal disease, including the development of the only antireflux procedure originating in North America. The esophageal center draws leadership and involvement from the expertise of world renowned physicians and surgeons who have a high-volume practice with a specific interest and commitment to expanding treatment, education and research of esophageal diseases. The center has the highest volume of esophageal resections in the Pacific Northwest, with 75 percent of its patients traveling 150 miles or more to receive care.

Watch Donald Low, MD, Director, Esophageal Center of Excellence, interview a patient after a recent surgery to treat a large paraesophageal hiatal hernia.

Patients who have undergone surgery for esophageal cancer at Virginia Mason have the best outcomes in the world. In fact, analysis of the 20-year experience (1991-2011) of surgical treatment of esophageal cancer at Virginia Mason reveals a current low postoperative mortality rate of less than .5 percent compared to the national rate of 8.9 percent.

Additionally, compared to the most recent data from the National Cancer Data Base, Virginia Mason demonstrates significantly better esophageal cancer survival rates in each stage of disease.

Esophageal Cancer Survival: Stage I Esophageal Cancer Survival: Stage II
Esophageal Cancer Survival Stage 1 Esophageal Cancer Survival Stage II
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Esophageal Cancer Survival: Stage III Esophageal Cancer Survival: Stage IV
Esophageal Cancer Survival Stage III Esophageal Cancer Survival State IV
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Sources: Virginia Mason Cancer Registry; National Cancer Data Base

These outcomes have attracted the attention of physicians from medical centers around the world, which has led to 10 visits from high-volume international esophageal centers from the United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands, Russia, India and other countries. These visits have facilitated first-hand exposure to our clinical pathway for the perioperative management of esophageal cancer with the goal of improving outcomes in these institutions. The Esophageal Center of Excellence is also pioneering an international effort to standardize the categorization of morbidity for esophageal cancer.

If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, call (206) 223-2319.

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