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Minimally invasive surgery at HCC recreates esophagus

New Britain [July 10 2009] - The Hospital of Central Connecticut (HCC) now offers esophageal cancer patients minimally invasive surgery to remove and reconstruct the esophagus. Compared to traditional surgery, the new procedure offers significantly reduced recovery and post-surgical discomfort.

The minimally invasive esophagogastrectomy (MIE), which uses several tiny incisions vs. two longer ones, removes a cancerous esophagus and repositions the stomach to form a new esophagus.

“It’s the traditional surgery applying state-of-the-art technology,” says HCC surgical oncologist James Flaherty, M.D., FACS, who is the only physician in Central Connecticut and Greater Hartford who conducts an MIE.

“This is still major surgery but we’re able to sharply reduce post-operative discomfort and markedly improve early return to normal activity,” he adds.

In June, a 61-year-old New Britain man was the first to have the procedure at HCC.

The MIE approach employs several 5 mm to 1 cm incisions to the right chest, the upper abdomen and lower neck. Traditional surgery requires a large incision on the side of the chest and another one down the middle of the abdomen. Either procedure is available for patients with cancer up to stage 3.

Compared to traditional surgery, inpatient hospital stay with the MIE approach is seven to 10 days vs. 10 to 14 days, and recovery two to four weeks vs. up to two to four months, says Flaherty.

When esophageal cancer is detected early, survival rate after an esophagogastrectomy is about 80 percent at five years, he notes. For stages 2 and 3, chemotherapy and radiation therapy often precede surgery and survival at five years ranges from 40 to 60 percent.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), men are more likely to have esophageal cancer, with almost 80 percent of it diagnosed between ages 55 and 85. The two types of esophageal cancer are adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Other risk factors include tobacco and alcohol use, obesity, and esophageal inflammatory conditions, most commonly gastroesophageal reflux. National Cancer Institute estimates for 2009 are 16,470 new cases of esophageal cancer, and 14,530 deaths.

Flaherty, board-certified in general surgery and fellowship trained in both esophageal and cancer surgery, is the Commission on Cancer Liaison Physician for HCC. He is also the hospital’s cancer liaison to the American College of Surgeons.

Contact: Kimberly Gensicki, 860-224-5900, x6507

HCC Corporate Communications
(860) 224-5695 • Fax (860) 224-5779