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Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month: 2020 Immunotherapy Research Update

April 28, 2020

Esophageal cancer was responsible for an estimated 1 in every 20 cancer deaths globally in 2018. Over 17,000 people in the United States were diagnosed with esophageal cancer just last year. The primary challenge in treatment: preventing the cancer from returning.  

This April for Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month, we look at promising new research, a variety of immunotherapy treatment combinations, and how we’re working toward a future immune to esophageal cancer. 

Dr. Deidre Cohen, oncologistEsophageal Cancer Armamentarium 

Oncologists are always seeking new medicines, equipment, and techniques to add to their armamentarium. We spoke with Deirdre J. Cohen, M.D., director of the clinical trials office at NYU Langone Health’s Perlmutter Cancer Center, about recent advances in immunotherapy for esophageal cancer, including biomarkers, checkpoint inhibitors, cell-based therapies, and clinical trials.

Read Q&A with Dr. Cohen

Changing Esophageal Cancer Treatment

At the CRI Immunotherapy Patient Summit in Boston last year, Justin F. Gainor, M.D., of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, discussed how his practice has changed in the last five years. A specialist in lung and esophageal cancers, he has begun integrating immunotherapy earlier into treatment and trying it in combination with chemotherapy.

Esophageal Cancer Patient Perspective

Over one year ago, Dorothy learned she had stage 3 esophageal cancer and enrolled in a clinical trial testing a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. Unfamiliar with this course of treatment, her family was vital to her decision-making and ensuring that she made her appointments. She shared her experience at the CRI Immunotherapy Patient Summit in New York City last year.

Esophageal Cancer Patient Story

Facing a high risk of recurrence, Michelle wanted to do everything she could to stop her esophageal cancer from coming back. In February 2017, she met Dr. Deirdre Cohen at NYU Langone Health, who recommended a clinical trial of nivolumab (Opdivo®). Three years later, Michelle is cancer-free and plans new adventures with her husband and daughter.

Cancer Researcher

Dendritic cells play an important role in the immune system’s ability to mount adaptive responses against cancer. CRI Fellow Stephen T. Ferris, Ph.D., has identified genes that appear to be essential for effective immune responses mediated by dendritic cells and aims to characterize them further. His insights could help enhance existing immunotherapies, including vaccines, as well as pave the way for the development of novel immune-based approaches against cancer.

Learn about Stephen's Dendritic cell research

Immunotherapy for Esophageal Cancer
Information Updated

Immunotherapy for esophageal cancer is being explored to reduce recurrence, as a first-line treatment, and in novel combinations for advanced stage cancer. There are three FDA-approved immunotherapy options for esophageal cancer.

VIEW Immunotherapy for esophageal cancer UPDATE

Find an Esophageal Cancer Clinical Trial

A variety of new and promising cancer immunotherapy treatments are only available to patients in clinical trials. Our Immunotherapy Clinical Trial Finder will match you to trials for which you may be eligible, and you can help speed the development of potentially lifesaving drugs for yourself and others.

FIND A Cancer Clinical TRIAL

Support Esophageal Cancer Research

CRI clinical investigator Eiichi Nakayama, M.D., and colleagues at Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine and Dentistry in Japan reported in the International Journal of Cancer that a vaccine composed of the NY-ESO-1f long peptide administered with the immune stimulants Montanide ISA-51 and Picibanil OK-432 could elicit integrated immune responses including antibodies, CD4+ helper T cells, and CD8+ killer T cells in nine out of the ten patients enrolled in a phase 1 clinical trial. This is just one of many ongoing studies that show promise in this cancer. This Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month, support lifesaving cancer immunotherapy research.

Donate to esophageal cancer research

Be in the know with the latest immunotherapy news

*Immunotherapy results may vary from patient to patient.

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