Research on esophageal cancer: With personal perspectives from studies in China and Kenya

Chung S. Yang, Xiaoxin Luke Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The most common form of esophageal cancer (EC), esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), is prevalent in many unindustrialized societies, among people with lower socioeconomic status and those who frequently use tobacco and alcohol. In some areas, ESCC mortality ranked top among all cancer. In this review, we begin with discussions of the extensive research on EC in Linxian in northern China that started 60 years ago and the recent studies in Kenya from our personal perspectives. Based on the results obtained from these studies and information from the literature, we summarize our current understanding about the risk factors for ESCC including lifestyle factors (smoking, alcohol, consumption of food and beverages at high temperature and other unhealthy habits), poor diet and nutritional insufficiencies and genetic susceptibility. Elimination or minimization of these environmental risk factors, as well as early detection and treatment of precancerous lesions, would be effective means for the prevention of ESCC. Current knowledge of molecular alterations in ESCC (gene mutations, hypermethylation and amplification or overexpression), as well as treatment of ESCC and the potential of targeted therapy, are also discussed. Finally, we propose effective approaches for the prevention of ESCC by adapting a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy diet that would also prevent other diseases. Community outreach, public education and international collaboration are important for achieving this public health goal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)264-276
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 15 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


  • esophageal cancer
  • molecular alterations
  • prevention
  • risk factors
  • therapy


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