Esophagus Cancer Overview

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Treating Esophagus Cancer TOPICS

Targeted therapy for cancer of the esophagus

As researchers have learned more about the changes in cells that cause cancer, they have been able to find newer drugs that are aimed at (target) these changes. Targeted drugs are different from standard chemo drugs. Sometimes they work when standard chemo drugs don’t, and they often have different (and less severe) side effects.

Trastuzumab (Herceptin®): This drug targets HER2, a protein that helps some cancer cells grow. It may help treat some esophagus cancers when used with chemo. If you have esophagus cancer and can’t have surgery, your doctor may have your tumor biopsy samples tested for HER2. Only cancers that have too much of the HER2 protein are likely to respond to this drug.

Ramucirumab (Cyramza®): Tumors need to make need blood vessels to grow. One of the proteins that tells the body to make new blood vessels is called VEGF. Ramucirumab is a drug that keeps VEGF from signaling the body to make more blood vessels. This can help slow or stop the growth and spread of cancer.

Ramucirumab is used to treat advanced cancers of the gastroesophageal (GE) junction (where the esophagus and stomach meet).

Last Medical Review: 05/21/2014
Last Revised: 02/04/2016