Sarah Cannon - April 27, 2017

Risk Factors

While esophageal cancer can occur for a number of reasons, research continues to advance in determining genetic drivers of the cancer. Researchers have found that certain genetic mutations are more commonly connected to people who have been diagnosed with Barrett's esophagus, which is a disorder in which the lining of the esophagus is damaged by stomach acid. Through genetic testing, doctors can determine which patients need proactive monitoring and which ones can be examined less frequently, based on the likelihood of Barrett's esophagus cells becoming cancerous.

Links have also been found between adenocarcinoma of the esophagus and obesity, which is a risk factor for esophageal cancer, as well as many other types of cancer.

Advancements in Esophageal Cancer Treatment

Treatment continues to advance as researchers determine the best treatment approaches for each patient's specific diagnosis of esophageal cancer. Currently, researchers are working to determine whether combining a set of chemotherapy drugs is more effective than just one chemotherapy drug alone. Work is also being done to test the effectiveness of combining chemotherapy and radiation therapy in specific amounts to better treat esophageal cancer.

Targeted therapy, such as trastuzumab (Herceptin), which interferes with a protein on esophageal cancer cells called HER2, works to stop the cancer cells from growing and spreading. Only a small portion of esophageal cancer cases have a significant amount of this protein for the treatment to be effective.

To learn more about esophageal cancer treatment, clinical trials and survivorship, visit the Sarah Cannon website here.