A new study by doctors from Dallas Baylor University Medical Center found a major breakthrough in the fight against esophageal cancer.
An immunotherapy drug has been shown in trials to prevent cancer from coming back in patients with esophageal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death worldwide.
Cancers that start in the esophagus are much more common in men than in women. Many of these cancers are linked to smoking or alcohol consumption, or being overweight.
The study found that an immunotherapy drug doubled the disease-free survival time for people with operable tumors and reduced the risk of cancer recurrence or death by 31% during the trial.
“This is a big step forward for our patients. Now we have a whole new modality of treatment. Chemo, radiotherapy and surgery, and now the fourth pillar will be immunotherapy for these patients”, Baylor Scott & White Dallas- Fort Worth said Dr. Ronan Kelly in Oncology.
Despite years of research, the study marked the first time that an immunotherapy drug has been shown to improve disease-free survival in patients with early stage esophageal or gastroesophageal junction cancers. early.
The standard of care for esophageal cancer includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery, however, this often does not lead to complete cancer elimination.
“We only see about 20-25% of them having a great response, so the vast majority, 75%, don’t fall into that category and we haven’t had any other option for these. patients, ”said Kelly, who is also president of immunology at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.
The results of this study have led the therapy to become a potential new standard of care for esophageal and esophageal cancers, which are notoriously difficult to treat and have seen limited progress in recent decades.
Jay Fisher from Dallas joined the trial after undergoing chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery for esophageal cancer, without warning, as is often the case with this type of cancer.
“I was actually on vacation, on a cruise, when I started having difficulty swallowing,” Fisher said.
He is not sure whether he received the placebo or the immunotherapy drug, but said his tests showed he had remained cancer-free since his operation in 2019.
“I consider myself to be a very positive person and I said to myself that I’m going to beat that,” Fisher said. “So with the help of the doctors and the prayers, I think that’s how I got away with it.”
Early esophageal cancer usually does not cause any signs or symptoms.
According to cancer.org, Although many people with esophageal cancer will die from it, treatment has improved and survival rates are improving. During the 1960s and 1970s, only about 5% of patients survived at least five years after being diagnosed. Today, about 20% of patients survive at least five years after diagnosis.
The risk of developing esophageal cancer increases with age. Less than 15% of cases are found in people under 55 years old.
Men are more likely than women to get esophageal cancer.
Tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco, are a major risk factor for esophageal cancer. The longer a person uses tobacco and the longer it is used, the higher the risk of cancer.