Grant Application

Rajeev Dhupar, MD, Katharine Z. Dhupar, CRNP, Angela Gallagher, CRNP, and ames D. Luketich, MD, UPMC Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery


Proposed Innovation

Esophageal cancer is a rare malignancy with a bleak outlook for patients. Although it accounts for only 1 percent of all new cancer diagnoses in the United States each year, it is on the rise. Treatment for esophageal cancer — chemotherapy, radiation, and especially esophagectomy — can result in dramatic changes in the lives of patients as well as their families.

UPMC is one of the highest volume esophageal cancer surgery centers in the country, performing more than 100 procedures yearly. Through this project, an Esophageal Cancer Surgery Education and Support Group — led by surgeons — will be created to help patients and family members cope with the challenges resulting from the disease and its treatment.


Improvements in Action

Surgery for this rare disease generally requires a week of hospitalization along with changes to eating and sleeping habits, and other daily living activities. Until now, most discussions have centered on medical treatment and risks of surgery. This project will bring surgeons and other care team members together with patients and families to provide much needed information and advice outside clinic and hospital settings. It also will include the development of peer support networks that will improve decision making throughout the course of the disease.


Results – In Progress

The Esophageal Cancer Surgery Education and Support Group will create an educational forum for patients, caregivers, and care providers so questions regarding treatment and surgery can be answered more adequately than in the office setting. The goal is to:

  • Utilize health care experts to educate patients and families about esophageal cancer, treatment (chemotherapy, radiation and surgery), life after surgery, and palliative care
  • Provide peer support from patients and caregivers who have experienced these procedures
  • Improve understanding of the needs and concerns of esophageal cancer patients and family members and sharing insight with providers so improvements can be made