People who are diagnosed with esophageal cancer will find it’s not at all uncommon for healthcare providers to recommend chemotherapy before surgery. This pre-treatment is performed to help shrink tumors before surgery and potentially increase the odds for treatment success. That said, not all esophageal cancers respond as desired to chemotherapy. Being able to gauge effectiveness quickly and accurately so that treatment can be altered is important. PET scans can help on this front, new research shows.
The study in question was designed to gauge the effectiveness PET scans might have in improving chemotherapy outcomes for esophageal cancer patients. The decision to incorporate a trial run with PET imaging was based on prior success using this method to track treatments for patients with lymphoma. For the esophageal study, about 250 patients were given an initial scan. Patients were randomly assigned to receive induction chemotherapy. After the first few cycles of chemo, patients had their PET scans repeated to determine if the induction was having an effect. If it was not, their treatment was changed.
Researchers ultimately found that patients who were tracked closely and had treatment changed, if necessary, had better outcomes than those who did not receive such close monitoring. The difference was nearly a 16 percent positive response rate compared with the standard 5 percent rate for patients who did not have their therapies switched.
The study, researchers say, shows that PET imagine may prove to be a valuable tool for guiding treatment in esophageal cancer. Further study, however, is required to determine if this method of gauging chemotherapy success should be considered on a broader scale.
Esophageal cancer affects nearly 17,000 Americans each year. Just under 16,000 die from this disease annually. Improving treatments is considered a key to helping increase the number of positive outcomes. The use of PET imaging may very well help on this front.