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Doctors are working to learn more about esophageal cancer, ways to prevent it, how to best treat it, and how to provide the best care to people diagnosed with this disease. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. Always talk with your doctor about the diagnostic and treatment options best for you.
Chemoprevention. Researchers are looking at using aspirin and antacids to prevent esophageal adenocarcinoma in people with Barrett’s esophagus. Research is still ongoing, and people are encouraged to talk with their doctor before taking any medications or dietary supplements.
PET scan. In addition to help stage of esophageal cancer (see Staging), PET scans may also be used to find out how well chemotherapy is working to shrink a tumor before surgery. Researchers are studying the use of PET scan to evaluate and possibly change chemotherapy before surgery.
Chemotherapy advances. Doctors are studying combinations of different drugs, such as cisplatin (Platinol), fluorouracil (5-FU, Adrucil), paclitaxel (Taxol), irinotecan (Camptosar), docetaxel (Docefrez, Taxotere), oxaliplatin (Eloxatin), and capecitabine (Xeloda). And, research is ongoing to find new drugs that are effective for esophageal cancer.
Targeted therapy. Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. This type of treatment blocks the growth and spread of cancer cells while limiting damage to normal cells.
- About 20% to 30% of esophageal adenocarcinomas make too much of a protein called human epidermal growth receptor 2 (HER2). Adding the drug trastuzumab (Herceptin), which targets HER2, to chemotherapy for metastatic esophageal adenocarcinomas improves the effectiveness of chemotherapy for patients with a cancer that makes too much HER2. Researchers are looking at newer drugs that target HER2 for advanced esophageal adenocarcinomas, as well as combining trastuzumab with radiation therapy.
- Another type of growth factor, called c-MET, may play an important role in helping metastatic esophageal adenocarcinomas grow. Researchers are studying drugs that stop c-MET from helping a cancer grow combined with chemotherapy for patients with metastatic esophageal adenocarcinomas.
Supportive care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current esophageal cancer treatments in order to improve patients’ comfort and quality of life.
Learn more about common statistical terms used in cancer research.
Looking for More about Current Research?
If you would like additional information about the latest areas of research regarding esophageal cancer, explore these related items:
- To find clinical trials specific to your diagnosis, talk with your doctor or search online clinical trial databases now.
- Review research announced at recent scientific meetings or in ASCO’s peer-reviewed journals.
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