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. 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.