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PET Imaging Can Improve Esophageal Cancer Outcomes

With just under 17,000 new cases diagnosed in the United States each year, esophageal cancer is by far not the most common form of the disease. Even so, an estimated 15,000 people die from this often difficult-to-treat condition each year. Considering that, improving outcomes for those diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus has been the focus of intense study. New research shows that employing PET imagining during the initial treatment process may make a big difference.
The study in question involved the use of PET imaging to gauge the effectiveness of neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is quite often used in advance of surgery in the treatment of esophageal cancer to shrink tumors and increase the odds of successful surgical outcome. The problem, however, is that chemotherapy drugs may sometimes prove ineffective in the first leg of treatment.

Researchers found that employing PET imaging to gauge the impacts chemo was having on tumors could increase the likelihood of a more positive outcome. If PET images showed little or no pathologic complete response, or pCR, in the tumor, the drug regimen was changed. Patients who were switched to a new regime during the course of the study had a pCR rate of about 18 percent. This was up from previous studies that showed pCR rates of only 5 percent for those who continued on with the initial therapy prescribed despite scans that showed tumors appeared to be non-responsive to the regimen.

Researchers say the study shows the value of tracking tumor response to adjuvant chemotherapy early. By doing so, clinicians may be better able to switch from ineffective treatments to ones that tumors do respond to. This, in turn, could lead to better overall outcomes for patients diagnosed with esophageal cancer. More research is required though to find out if changing regimens after PET scanning improves survival rates.

Esophageal cancer only makes up about 1 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States. Even so, it only has a survival rate of about 20 percent at the five-year mark. With that in mind, any advances in treatment protocol for this form of cancer are highly encouraging.

Esophageal cancer has a number of risk factors that people can address. While men are more likely to develop this disease, women may still suffer from it, as well. Some of the risk factors include acid reflux disease that is left untreated, obesity, smoking and overuse of alcohol. People who are concerned about their risk for esophageal cancer should seek out medical advice.

PET / CT of Las Colinas was developed with both patients and physicians in mind and our services have been used for various types of disease; primarily in detecting, staging and monitoring cancer, but also in heart disease and brain disorders.

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