Executive summary

The majority of esophageal cancer patients are diagnosed with locoregionally confined disease, which is often amenable to curative intent therapy. Chemoradiotherapy (CRT) improves overall survival (OS) in stage II and III esophagus cancer in the neoadjuvant and definitive settings. Due to the close proximity of organs at risk (OARs), including lungs, heart, stomach, bowel, kidneys, and spinal cord, esophageal CRT can result in profound acute and late toxicities.

Photon-based radiotherapy exposes OARs to significant doses of radiation, whereas proton beam therapy (PBT) delivers a more conformal dose to the target and minimize the volume of OARs exposed to radiation.

This review discussed the evolution of photon and proton-based radiotherapy techniques, rationale, dosimetric and clinical studies comparing outcomes of photon- and proton-based techniques, ongoing prospective trials, and future directions of PBT as a means of reducing toxicity and improving oncologic outcomes for patients with esophagus cancer.

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