What’s new in esophagus cancer research?
Research on the causes, prevention and treatment of this cancer is now being done around the world.
Research has found that certain gene changes are more common in people with Barrett’s esophagus. Once more is known about this, we might be able design new tests for finding the people who are likely to get Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer earlier, so that these problems can be prevented. Knowing about these changes may also lead to new targeted treatments that overcome the effects of these abnormal genes.
Screening and prevention
The rate of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus has risen sharply in recent decades. Efforts are now being made to reduce obesity, a major risk factor for this form of cancer (and several other types as well).
In people with Barrett’s esophagus, researchers are trying to find out if newer tests can tell which patients are likely to go on to develop cancer. This may help doctors decide which patients need intense follow-up and which ones can be examined less often.
Researchers are also looking for ways to help stop Barrett’s cells from turning into pre-cancer or cancer. Drugs that lower stomach acid and aspirin are now being studied for this purpose.
Doctors are using newer imaging tests and other tests to better determine which people are more likely to be helped by surgery to remove the esophagus, and which people are less likely to benefit from this major operation.
Doctors are also constantly improving surgery for esophageal cancer to make these operations safer and help patients recover more quickly.
Many studies are being done on new ways to combine chemo drugs to get the best results. Researchers are also studying the proteins inside esophagus cancer cells to see if they can tell if the cancer is likely to respond to chemo. This might help doctors choose the best treatment option for the person.
Drugs that target certain substances in the cancer cell are becoming available. This is known as targeted therapy. It has been successful in some other cancers, and is now coming into use for esophagus cancer.
Last Medical Review: 05/21/2014
Last Revised: 01/09/2015