T

he esophagus is a tube that connects the throat to the stomach, running down the middle of your chest behind your heart, and carrying foods and liquids from your mouth to the digestive system. Most adult’s esophagi are about 25 centimeters long and are lined by mucosa (a moist membrane that protects tissues) and muscle fibers.

The main function of the esophagus is to guide foods and fluids to the stomach avoiding foreign material (food, liquids, stomach acid or foreign objects) to enter into your trachea and lungs. There are two sphincter muscles – upper and lower – in the esophagus that are tightly closed in order to prevent stomach juices from traveling up the esophagus and also to prevent unwanted secretions from traveling to stomach. These muscles open up when you are eating, drinking, breathing, belching, etc.

A weakened lower esophageal sphincter is usually responsible for chronic acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

What is Esophageal Cancer?

Esophageal cancer is a type of cancer that occurs healthy cells start to grow and divide uncontrollably creating growths (known as tumors) along the surface of the esophagus. Doctors diagnose esophageal cancer using a camera-guided scope (endoscopy) to explore the esophagus and look for any abnormalities such as nodules or areas of irritation. If the doctor found any signs of cancer during an endoscopy they may order a biopsy to collect a sample of the abnormal growth. These tissues are analyzed for any potential cancer cells.

There are two main types of esophageal cancer: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.

Squamous cell carcinomas develop from normal squamous cells that run along the surface of the esophagus. On the other hand, adenocarcinomas are formed from gland cells present in the lower third of the esophagus, and it is believed to be caused mainly by the continuous exposure to stomach acid.

What Are the Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer?

Early stage esophageal cancer usually doesn’t have any symptoms, however, as the cancer progresses it starts to cause the following problems and discomforts:

  • Trouble swallowing
  • Chest or back pain
  • Chronic heartburn or indigestion
  • A cough and/or hoarseness
  • Shortness of breath and/or fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss and loss of appetite

What Causes Esophageal Cancer?

The causes of esophageal cancer are still not fully understood. However, doctors believe that there are a few risk factors that appear to increase a person’s risk for developing this kind of cancer.

Tobacco and Alcohol Use

Tobacco and drinking alcohol seems to damage DNA cells in the lining of the esophagus, which may lead them to mutate and become cancerous.

Gender

Men are three to four times more likely than women to develop esophageal cancer.

Being Overweight or Obese

Obesity and having too much body fat seems to increase the likelihood of developing esophageal cancer. However, researchers are still trying to find out why that happens.

Barrett’s Esophagus

Barrett’s esophagus is a condition that develops from chronic GERD in which the normal lining of the esophagus changes as a result of the constant acid exposure. Though Barrett’s Esophagus is not a form of cancer, some individuals with this condition develop esophageal cancer later on.

Diet

A diet low fruits and vegetables and some vitamin deficiencies have been observed to increase an individual’s risk of developing this type of cancer.

Esophageal Cancer Clinical Trials

Unfortunately, because esophageal cancer is rarely diagnosed early it has one the lowest survival rates. For that reason, doctors and researchers are constantly looking for better screening and diagnostic methods as well as more effective treatments. In order to test new approaches, researchers design clinical trials that involve esophageal cancer patients.

The main goal of a clinical trial is to assess if a new drug or intervention is safe, effective, and altogether a better alternative than available options. Clinical trials are very carefully evaluated by internal and external agencies to ensure that the health and safety of volunteers are never compromised.

ClinicalTrials.gov: Recruiting Studies | esophageal cancer | Last update posted in the last 300 days Studies found on ClinicalTrials.gov by a search of: Recruiting Studies | esophageal cancer | Last update posted in the last 300 days

  • Trial of Nivolumab and Cetuximab After Chemoradiation in Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma Patients.
    on January 18, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Condition:   Esophageal Squamous Cell CarcinomaInterventions:   Drug: Cisplatin;   Drug: 5-FU;   Radiation: Radiation therapy;   Drug: Cetuximab;   Drug: NivolumabSponsors:   Baruch Brenner;   Bristol-Myers Squibb;   Merck Serono International SARecruiting

  • Evidence Based Information Provision to Improve Decision Making After Oesophagogastric Cancer Diagnosis (SOURCE)
    on January 18, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Conditions:   Oesophageal Cancer;   Gastric CancerIntervention:   Other: Tool and trainingSponsors:   Academisch Medisch Centrum - Universiteit van Amsterdam (AMC-UvA);   Dutch Cancer SocietyRecruiting

  • Efficacy of Neoadjuvant PD-1 Blockade Plus Chemotherapy for Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma
    on January 13, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Conditions:   Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma;   ImmunotherapyInterventions:   Drug: camrelizumab;   Drug: Paclitaxel for injection (albumin-bound);   Drug: CisplatinSponsors:   Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Disease;   BGI-Shenzhen;   Jiangsu HengRui Medicine Co., Ltd.Recruiting

  • Paclitaxel for the Treatment of Gastric or Gastroesophageal Cancer
    on January 7, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Conditions:   Carcinomatosis;   Clinical Stage IV Gastric Cancer AJCC v8;   Clinical Stage IV Gastroesophageal Junction Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Clinical Stage IVA Gastric Cancer AJCC v8;   Clinical Stage IVA Gastroesophageal Junction Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Clinical Stage IVB Gastric Cancer AJCC v8;   Clinical Stage IVB Gastroesophageal Junction Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Metastatic Gastric Adenocarcinoma;   Metastatic Gastroesophageal Junction Adenocarcinoma;   Pathologic Stage IV Gastric Cancer AJCC v8;   Pathologic Stage IV Gastroesophageal Junction Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Pathologic Stage IVA Gastroesophageal Junction Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Pathologic Stage IVB Gastroesophageal Junction Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Postneoadjuvant Therapy Stage IV Gastric Cancer AJCC v8;   Postneoadjuvant Therapy Stage IV Gastroesophageal Junction Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Postneoadjuvant Therapy Stage IVA Gastroesophageal Junction Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Postneoadjuvant Therapy Stage IVB Gastroesophageal Junction Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8Intervention:   Drug: PaclitaxelSponsors:   M.D. Anderson Cancer Center;   National Cancer Institute (NCI)Recruiting

  • A Comparison Between Ivor-Lewis and McKeown Minimally Invasive Esophagectomy
    on January 3, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Condition:   Esophageal CancerInterventions:   Procedure: MIE Ivor- Lewis;   Procedure: MIE McKeownSponsor:   The Second Hospital of Shandong UniversityRecruiting

  • EsophaCap for the Detection of Early Esophageal Carcinoma
    on January 2, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Conditions:   Barrett Esophagus;   Esophageal Cancer;   Gastric CancerIntervention:   Sponsor:   Johns Hopkins UniversityRecruiting

  • PET-CT Guided Optimal Radiotherapy Dose for II/III Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma
    on December 27, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Condition:   Esophageal Squamous Cell CarcinomaIntervention:   Diagnostic Test: PET-CTSponsor:   Wuhan UniversityRecruiting

  • A Phase II Study of Chemoradiotherapy With Nimotuzumab in Unresectable Esophageal Cancer
    on December 23, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Conditions:   Esophageal Cancer;   Chemoradiotherapy;   Nimotuzumab;   Unresectable Malignant NeoplasmInterventions:   Radiation: Radiotherapy;   Drug: Nimotuzumab;   Drug: S-1Sponsor:   Chinese Academy of Medical SciencesRecruiting

  • Study of VE800 and Nivolumab in Patients With Selected Types of Advanced or Metastatic Cancer
    on December 23, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Conditions:   Metastatic Cancer;   Melanoma;   Gastric Cancer;   Gastroesophageal Junction Adenocarcinoma;   Colorectal CancerInterventions:   Biological: VE800;   Drug: Nivolumab;   Drug: Vancomycin Oral CapsuleSponsors:   Vedanta Biosciences, Inc.;   Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS)Recruiting

  • To Compare the Effect of Different Nutritional Pathways on Improving Nutritional Status of Esophageal Cancer Patients Undergoing Chemoradiotherapy
    on December 16, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Conditions:   Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma;   Chemoradiotherapy;   Enteral NutritionIntervention:   Dietary Supplement: Dietary guidanceSponsor:   Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and HospitalRecruiting

  • The Effect of Andrographis Paniculata (AP) on Palliative Management of Advanced Esophageal Cancer
    on December 12, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Condition:   Squamous Cell Carcinoma of EsophagusIntervention:   Drug: Andrographis PaniculataSponsor:   Chinese University of Hong KongRecruiting

  • Phase II Study of Neoadjuvant Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor in Patients With Resectable Gastrointestinal Cancers
    on December 12, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Conditions:   Subjects With Resectable and Localized Gastric Cancer;   Subjects With Resectable Esophageal Cancer or Liver Cancer;   Subjects With Resectable Liver CancerIntervention:   Drug: IMC-001Sponsor:   Asan Medical CenterRecruiting

  • Maintaining Fitness During Neo-adjuvant Chemotherapy for Oesophago-gastric Cancer: a Feasibility Study
    on December 11, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Conditions:   Esophageal Adenocarcinoma;   Gastric AdenocarcinomaIntervention:   Other: ChemoFit exercise prehabilitation interventionSponsors:   Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust;   Newcastle UniversityRecruiting

  • Perioperative Nutritional Support in Esophageal Cancer Patients
    on December 9, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Conditions:   Esophageal Cancer;   Nutritional DeficiencyIntervention:   Dietary Supplement: prosureSponsor:   THEODOROU DIMITRIOSRecruiting

  • A Study of CS1001 in Subjects With Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma
    on December 5, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Condition:   Unresectable Locally Advanced, Recurrent or Metastatic Esophageal Squamous Cell CarcinomaInterventions:   Drug: CS1001+ Fluorouracil+Cisplatin;   Drug: Placebo+ Fluorouracil+CisplatinSponsor:   CStone PharmaceuticalsRecruiting

  • Characterizing Chemo-Radiotherapy Treatment-Related Cardiac Changes in Non-metastatic, Non-recurrent Lung and Esophageal Cancer Patients
    on December 3, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Conditions:   Clinical Stage 0 Esophageal Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Clinical Stage 0 Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma AJCC v8;   Clinical Stage I Esophageal Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Clinical Stage I Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma AJCC v8;   Clinical Stage II Esophageal Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Clinical Stage II Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma AJCC v8;   Clinical Stage IIA Esophageal Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Clinical Stage IIB Esophageal Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Clinical Stage III Esophageal Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Clinical Stage III Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma AJCC v8;   Non-Metastatic Lung Carcinoma;   Pathologic Stage 0 Esophageal Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Pathologic Stage 0 Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma AJCC v8;   Pathologic Stage I Esophageal Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Pathologic Stage I Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma AJCC v8;   Pathologic Stage IA Esophageal Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Pathologic Stage IA Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma AJCC v8;   Pathologic Stage IB Esophageal Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Pathologic Stage IB Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma AJCC v8;   Pathologic Stage IC Esophageal Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Pathologic Stage II Esophageal Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Pathologic Stage II Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma AJCC v8;   Pathologic Stage IIA Esophageal Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Pathologic Stage IIA Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma AJCC v8;   Pathologic Stage IIB Esophageal Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Pathologic Stage IIB Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma AJCC v8;   Pathologic Stage III Esophageal Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Pathologic Stage III Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma AJCC v8;   Pathologic Stage IIIA Esophageal Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Pathologic Stage IIIA Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma AJCC v8;   Pathologic Stage IIIB Esophageal Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Pathologic Stage IIIB Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma AJCC v8;   Postneoadjuvant Therapy Stage I Esophageal Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Postneoadjuvant Therapy Stage I Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma AJCC v8;   Postneoadjuvant Therapy Stage II Esophageal Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Postneoadjuvant Therapy Stage II Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma AJCC v8;   Postneoadjuvant Therapy Stage III Esophageal Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Postneoadjuvant Therapy Stage III Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma AJCC v8;   Postneoadjuvant Therapy Stage IIIA Esophageal Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Postneoadjuvant Therapy Stage IIIA Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma AJCC v8;   Postneoadjuvant Therapy Stage IIIB Esophageal Adenocarcinoma AJCC v8;   Postneoadjuvant Therapy Stage IIIB Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma AJCC v8;   Stage 0 Lung Cancer AJCC v8;   Stage I Lung Cancer AJCC v8;   Stage IA1 Lung Cancer AJCC v8;   Stage IA2 Lung Cancer AJCC v8;   Stage IA3 Lung Cancer AJCC v8;   Stage IB Lung Cancer AJCC v8;   Stage II Lung Cancer AJCC v8;   Stage IIA Lung Cancer AJCC v8;   Stage IIB Lung Cancer AJCC v8;   Stage III Lung Cancer AJCC v8;   Stage IIIA Lung Cancer AJCC v8;   Stage IIIB Lung Cancer AJCC v8;   Stage IIIC Lung Cancer AJCC v8Interventions:   Procedure: Biospecimen Collection;   Device: Cardiac Event Monitor;   Other: Chemoradiotherapy;   Radiation: Radiation TherapySponsors:   Mayo Clinic;   National Cancer Institute (NCI)Recruiting

  • Neoadjuvant Chemoradiotherapy Combined With PD-1 Antibody in Locally Advanced Esophageal Cancer
    on November 26, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Condition:   Esophagus CancerIntervention:   Drug: TeripalimabSponsor:   Tongji HospitalRecruiting

  • Sentinel Lymph Node Navigation Surgery Using Near-infrared Indocyanine Green Imaging in Early Esophageal Cancer
    on November 22, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Condition:   Detection Rate of SLN ; Accuracy Rate of Lymph Node MetastasisIntervention:   Drug: Indocyanine Green for InjectionSponsors:   Fifth Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-Sen University;   Sun Yat-sen UniversityRecruiting

  • Study on Adjuvant Chemotherapy After Total Two-field Lymph Node Dissection of Thoracic Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma
    on November 22, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Condition:   Thoracic Esophageal Squamous Cell CarcinomaIntervention:   Drug: chemotherapySponsor:   Sun Yat-sen UniversityRecruiting

  • A Study to Evaluate Rucaparib in Patients With Solid Tumors and With Deleterious Mutations in HRR Genes
    on November 21, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Condition:   Solid TumorIntervention:   Drug: RucaparibSponsor:   Clovis Oncology, Inc.Recruiting

To participate in a clinical trial, participants are asked to sign an informed consent document. This document outlines all the potential benefits and risks that may arise from the trial, as well as an explanation of the experimental treatment, and what will be expected from the volunteer (i.e., number of visits to the clinic or hospital, any in-patient stays, etc.) Most clinical trials also have inclusion and exclusion criteria that outline who can and cannot participate in the study and why.

If you are interested in participating in an esophageal cancer clinical trial your doctor will be able to tell you if you are a good candidate for one and may help you find a trial in your local area. Clinical trials are conducted by research centers, hospitals, and universities all across the country and many of them are always recruiting new volunteers.

Sources