Esophageal Cancer: Latest Research

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 11/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done now to learn more about this type of cancer and how to treat it. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

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 for this reason.

PET scan. In addition to help find out the cancer’s stage (see Stages), PET scans may be used to find out how well treatment is working to shrink a tumor before surgery. Researchers are studying the use of PET scan to evaluate and possibly change treatment before surgery.

Chemotherapy advances. Doctors are studying combinations of different drugs, such as capecitabine (Xeloda), cisplatin (Platinol), docetaxel (Docefrez, Taxotere), fluorouracil (5-FU, Adrucil), irinotecan (Camptosar), oxaliplatin (Eloxatin) and paclitaxel. And, research is ongoing to find new drugs that are effective for esophageal cancer.

Targeted therapy. Several types of targeted therapies are currently being studied for esophageal cancer.

  • In addition to trastuzumab, 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.

Looking for More About the Latest Research?

If you would like additional information about the latest areas of research regarding esophageal cancer, explore these related items that take you outside of this guide:

The next section addresses how to cope with the symptoms of the disease or the side effects of its treatment. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Coping with Side Effects, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.