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Proton Therapy for Esophageal Cancer

The incidence of esophageal cancer is increasing in the United States and has an overall 5-year survival rate of 10% to 30%. Most patients diagnosed with this disease have locally advanced tumors, requiring a combined treatment regimen that includes radiation therapy.

Treating esophageal cancer with an adequate dose of radiation can be difficult because of the close proximity of the esophagus to critical structures, such as the heart, lungs and spinal cord. Because protons deposit their highest dose of radiation at the tumor or area of concern, proton therapy can be an excellent choice for treating patients with esophageal cancer.

Proton therapy offers patients and their doctors a unique option for effectively treating esophageal cancer while reducing damage to other critical organs and tissues. The MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center is one of the few centers of its kind treating esophageal cancer with proton technology.

With proton therapy for esophageal cancer, treatments typically take about 15 to 30 minutes each day and are delivered five days a week for approximately four to seven weeks. The course of treatment and length of time per treatment each day varies based on each patient’s individual case. Most patients tolerate the treatments extremely well and are able to continue to work and exercise during their treatment course and immediately after treatment is complete.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center