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Chemotherapy for Esophageal Cancer

At The Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, we have pioneering treatment and research programs for esophageal cancer. Our leading cancer specialists can provide you with the most advanced therapies available because they are also working on the latest medical research for esophageal cancer.

Why Choose Johns Hopkins for Esophageal Cancer

Chemotherapy is a critical component of treatment for most esophageal cancer patients. However, our medical oncologists are studying ways to take chemotherapy a step beyond, by creating new combinations of treatments and studying new types of drug therapies. Patients travel far and wide to receive treatment with us. We offer:

  • Cutting-edge research: Our doctors and scientists have pioneered some of the leading studies on chemotherapy and immunotherapy for esophageal cancer. New studies underway at Johns Hopkins hold promise to be the next frontier in esophageal cancer research and clinical trials.
  • A personalized approach: Your medical oncologist (a doctor who specializes in providing chemotherapy treatment) will take the time to meet with you and your family to discuss your options, explain the treatment and make sure your questions are answered throughout your treatment. You’ll also work with a dedicated care coordinator, who is always on call to adjust your medication and help you manage your chemotherapy side effects. Learn more about our patient support services.
  • The highest standard of care: Our medical oncologists (doctors who specialize in treating cancer with chemotherapy, medicine and other therapies) are leaders in standard-setting organizations like the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, which creates practice guidelines followed by oncologists around the country. Meet our team.
  • The most effective treatments: Just over a decade ago, doctors at Johns Hopkins were at the forefront of the research that proved that giving chemotherapy and radiation treatment before surgery was more effective and less physically stressful for esophageal cancer patients. We continue to perfect this approach and are now assessing whether the addition of immunotherapy drugs can re-activate your own immune system prior to surgery in an effort to give you the best possible outcome. Learn more about our approach to esophageal cancer treatments.
  • The ultimate in coordinated care: Our center is one of the few where all of your surgeons, doctors, dieticians, nurses and other specialists collaborate to develop a personalized treatment strategy for you. We’ll make sure you are fully informed, involved and guided through every step of your fight.

Meet Our Medical Oncologists

Meet the rest of our esophageal cancer team.

Chemotherapy Research at Johns Hopkins

At Johns Hopkins, medical oncologists are in the process of conducting esophageal cancer research and clinical trials that promise new hope:

  • Large-scale research on immunotherapy: Our medical oncologists are leading the largest-ever study of immunotherapy, a treatment that raises the body’s natural ability to fight cancer. This treatment holds promise for patients who have completed surgery for esophageal cancer but still have detectable cancer cells in the body or lymph nodes.
  • Biomarkers and chemotherapy: Our cancer researchers have already published new research on personalized chemotherapy and are now studying its applications. By identifying genetic biomarkers that determine how a patient will respond to chemotherapy, clinicians can prescribe a course of chemotherapy that is more likely to work for patients with those biomarkers.
  • HER2 protein research for esophageal cancer: Researchers have found that approximately 15-20% of patients with esophageal cancer have HER2 genes that make too many HER2 proteins. Our standard practice now is to assess the HER2 status of all patients with metastatic esophageal cancer. We are also investigating new ways to target HER2 proteins in treatment.
  • Small molecule drug research: Small molecule drugs block the spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules involved in tumor growth. Our researchers are studying the effectiveness of this type of drug therapy on HER2 proteins and other molecules present in esophageal cancer.
  • Epigenetic therapy: Epigenetic therapy treats cancer not by killing cancer cells but by reprogramming their patterns of gene expression so that they lose their capacity for uncontrolled growth. By studying the epigenomes of cancer cells, researchers at Johns Hopkins hope to prescribe treatment regimens for esophageal cancer that turn on the genes that fight cancer cells. Researchers are also looking at biomarkers on cancer cells to determine if patients have the kind of genes that would respond to this therapy.

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