Proton therapy has fewer side effects in esophageal cancer patients, study finds.

May 26, 2015

New research by scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine has found that esophageal cancer patients treated with proton therapy experienced significantly less toxic side effects than patients treated with older radiation therapies.

Working with colleagues at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Dallas, Texas, Michael Chuong, MD, an assistant professor of radiation oncology at the school, compared two kinds of X-ray radiation with proton therapy, an innovative, precise approach that targets tumors while minimizing harm to surrounding tissues.

The researchers looked at nearly 600 patients and found that proton therapy resulted in a significantly lower number of side effects, including nausea, blood abnormalities and loss of appetite. The results were presented on May 22 at the annual conference of the Particle Therapy Cooperative Group, held in San Diego.

“This evidence underscores the precision of proton therapy, and how it can really make a difference in cancer patients’ lives,” said Dr. Chuong.

Patients with esophageal cancer can suffer a range of side effects, including nausea, fatigue, lack of appetite, blood abnormalities and lung and heart problems. Proton therapy did not make a difference in all of these side effects, but had significant effects on several.

The results have particular relevance for the University of Maryland School of Medicine; this fall the school will open the Maryland Proton Treatment Center (MPTC). The center will provide one of the newest and highly precise forms of radiation therapy available, pencil beam scanning (PBS), which targets tumors while significantly decreasing radiation doses to healthy tissue. This technique can precisely direct radiation to the most difficult-to-reach tumors.

esophageal cancer patients proton therapy new research study findings esophagus cancer patients

The National Association for Proton Therapy


Proton therapy is just one of several new methods for treating cancer. Others include:

  • Selective Internal Radiation Therapy, a precision modality for treating patients with particularly difficult-to-remove tumors involving the liver such as those from colorectal cancers;
  • Gammapod, a new, high-precision, noninvasive method of treating early-stage breast cancer;
  • Thermal Therapies, the use of “heat” in treating a broad spectrum of malignancies.

The treatment works well for many kinds of tumors, including those found in the brain, esophagus, lung, head and neck, prostate, liver, spinal cord and gastrointestinal system. It is also an important option for children with cancer and is expected to become an important option for some types of breast cancer. While most cancer patients are well served with today’s state-of-the-art radiation therapy technology, up to 30 percent are expected to have a greater benefit from the new form of targeted proton beam therapy.

This post is based on information provided by University of Maryland.


“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”; Research explores Hippocrates’s adage

February 12, 2015

Are you eating at least five fruits and vegetables every day?

A new study published in the British Journal of Cancer suggests that some compounds found largely in fruits and vegetables called “flavonoids may reduce incidence and improve survival” for some cancers.

It is well-known that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is beneficial to one’s health and well-being.  What is particularly exciting about this research is that it specifically focused on the two common types of esophageal cancer and gastric cancer.

The study is titled “Dietary intake of flavonoids and oesophageal and gastric cancer: incidence and survival in the United States of America (USA).”

Researchers interviewed patients that were diagnosed with esophageal cancer, both adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma and gastric cancer (adenocarcinoma).

Esophageal adenocarcinoma is the most common type of esophageal cancer in the western world and is the fastest growing cancer in the United States.*  

Also one of the deadliest cancers, esophageal cancer shows extremely poor survival rates, as the cancer is extremely aggressive and is typically caught in later, advanced stages. Currently, there are no routine or standard screenings to detect esophageal cancer in earlier stages.  The overall five-year survival rate is less than 18%.

According to the published abstract found on British Journal’s website, the researchers linked patients’ responses from food frequency questionnaires with USDA Flavonoid Databases and available literature for six flavonoid classes and lignans (chemical compound found in plants).

The abstract details that “flavonoids have experimentally demonstrated chemopreventive effects against esophageal and gastric cancers,” but there have been few studies which examine “flavonoid intake and incidence of these cancers and none have considered survival.”

Foods that may fight cancerWhile fruits and vegetables are the main sources of flavonoids, tea and red wine also contain the compound.

Certain fruits and vegetables can cause symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).  Therefore, acid reflux sufferers should be careful about consuming certain spicy, citrus and/or acidic food and drinks and should limit or completely avoid drinking wine.  It is important to speak to your doctor before making any changes to your health.

“Our findings, if confirmed, suggest that increased dietary anthocyanidin intake may reduce incidence and improve survival for these cancers,”  researchers stated.  To read the full abstract, please click here.




British Journal of Cancer, 10 February 2015; doi:10.1038/bjc.2015.25

“Esophageal Cancer On The Rise,” WebMD

New York Times: “How Aspirin Might Stem

July 9, 2013

New York Times: “How Aspirin Might Stem Cancer”

A recent study has found the use of aspirin to slow certain types of DNA which can lead to abnormal and uncontrolled cell growth. “The scientists studied 13 people with Barrett’s esophagus, a condition in which cells in the esophagus become damaged, usually by acid reflux. Sometimes the cells become precancerous, and rarely the problem leads to esophageal cancer.”

To read more on this recent study, visit:

Article by Nicholas Bakalar, New York Times

GEN | News Highlights:Study: Aspirin May

June 27, 2013

GEN | News Highlights:Study: Aspirin May Stave Off Accumulation of Cancer-Causing via @genbio #health #cancer #aspirin